#JustANumber Child Protection Month ends on a high note | Sunday Observer

#JustANumber Child Protection Month ends on a high note

28 November, 2021
Winners of the competition with the keynote speakers
Winners of the competition with the keynote speakers

The Stop Child Cruelty Trust (SCC) hosted the Grand Finale of the #JustANumber Child Protection Month on November 18 at a virtual event with live performances from the Kumaratunga Munidasa Studio, SLBC with participants joining the event remotely. The winners of the National Speech and Art Competition, which was introduced in commemoration of Children’s Day 2021 at the beginning of the month, were also awarded at the event.

Former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, a pioneer in implementing child protection legislation in Sri Lanka, was the Chief Guest. She expressed grave concern over the misplaced notion that national security could be achieved without child protection. SCC Patron and former National Cricketer Sidath Wettimuny delivered the keynote address. His enlightening thoughts reflected on the evolution of childhood between then and now.

Commenting on the initiative, Stop Child Cruelty Trust Chairperson, Dr. Tush Wickramanayaka said, “Within the previous fourteen months, seven children have been physically and sexually abused and murdered in our paradise island, yet not a single person of authority has been able to protect them. In addition to the establishment of Sri Lanka’s first Child Protection Alliance comprising twenty respectable Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), #JustANumber Child Protection Month has focused on various aspects of child protection. The Trust has also done extensive advocacy work focusing on holding the relevant authorities accountable, including an appeal to the President to ensure that the National Child Protection Authority (NCPA) remains independent and free of political interference.”

The campaign’s core initiative was the National Speech competition titled; “If I were the President’s Advisor, how would I address the Child Protection Crisis?” that focused on educating and empowering the youth across the country. The winners of the Speech competition were Ranuja Pahalawela (Sinhala), M T M Armas (Tamil), Pesandi Karunaratne (English), and Deneth Samarakone (Most Popular). While Thanumi De Silva received First place in the Art competition, Sathini Weerasinghe and R Fathima received second and Third places, respectively.

“Another key objective of this initiative was to get children, as young as six years and all the way up to 18 years, to share their own, unique perspective on the child protection crisis in Sri Lanka. The Speech and Art competition received an overwhelming number of submissions from across the country and its truly exciting to witness the enthusiasm and involvement of the children towards this cause. I want to extend my congratulations to the winners and all the participants for setting a great example for the new generation of Sri Lanka,’ Dr. Wickramanayaka said.

Child Protection is a collective social responsibility and SCC will continue its collaborative efforts to build a self-governing ethical code of behaviour to safeguard and promote the rights of child abuse victims, while also preventing re-victimisation in the community. Those interested in getting involved towards the cause can visit the website at www.stopchildcruelty.com and the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/stopchildcrueltyor email to [email protected].