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Watch out for cyberbullying during COVID-19; teachers, parents urged to be vigilant- Rights of the Child Commission

Last Updated on Monday, 15 March 2021, 16:19 by Denis Chabrol

The Rights of the Child Commission (RCC), a constitutional child rights watchdog, on Monday said there was a heightened risk of cyberbullying during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our citizens in general, must continue to be vigilant, because COVID – 19 has increased the risk for our children to abuse, neglect and other negative occurrences,’ the commission said in a statement.

The RCC also called on teachers to be vigilant for any sign of child abuse and bullying that has now moved into the Online sphere. “Teachers are also urged to be alert to the reality of cyber bullying which in – class bullying may now have been transformed to i.e. the in – class bullies now shifting their bad behaviour online to continue to torment their class peers,” said the Commission whose office is based at Peter Rose and Anira Streets, Queenstown, Georgetown.

The constitutional body urged teachers in all virtual and in-person classrooms and other teaching-learning environments to be on the look-out for abuse and offer help to those prone to abuse. “We urge our teachers, whether in virtual classes, classes on our street corners, in – person secondary school class teachers or even of those who just submit work, to continue to be on the look out for signs of abuse and to reach out to students who were earlier identified as at risk for abuse,” the RCC said.

The RCC urged Guyanese to contact its investigator to provide guidance and support. Contact may be made with the Commission on 231-5281 by email on: [email protected] or by WhatsApp to: 640-1119.

Saying that the seemingly endless occurrences of abuse of children in differing forms should be of grave concern to all of residents of Guyana, the RCC commended the work of the   Ministry of Human Services’ Child Care and Protection Agency (CPA), social workers and teachers who encounter instances of abuse much too often.

The Commission, noting that child abuse in all its forms, whether inflicted by adult or peer, is wrong and all should be prepared to act to protect a child, called on parents must not turn a blind eye and deaf ear to a child who complains of abuse, and must be alert to instances where persons in your home show a propensity to abuse or appear untrustworthy around your children.  “Parents also are urged to always remember that they are the primary protectors of theirs and other children in their sphere and care.  Adults who show a desire to be abusive must be stopped and condign action taken against them,” the RCC said.

The RCC urged persons who know of child abuse to contact any relevant authority they feel comfortable to liaise with.  Several instances of abuse have been found due to public intervention.