Day 1 of the Child Initiative Forum was an unqualified success!
After an opening address by Director Bright Appiah, several speakers shared their insight on the forum's theme of: Promoting positive attitudes in children: how best can the law help?
Yaa Peprah Amekudzi
During her talk, Yaa Peprah Amekudzi spoke of the value of children and their skills and capabilities. Children should not be underestimated, they can learn and they can think for themselves.
It is important for children to remember that they shouldn’t believe everything they hear. People in life may tell you negative things. They may tell you that you are not smart or beautiful or tall, but children can be all of those things.
Take lessons from the national anthem. Humility, rights, growth and all of the values expressed in the anthem are things that will help Ghana to be great. We can learn a great many things from our traditions that can teach right and positive attitudes. Remember that as children, you have rights and you have responsibilities, and fulfilling them makes the future of this country more bright.
When you give children hope, you are giving them a voice, which is vital to society, because in moving forward as a country, Ghana will depend on our children.
Keynote Speaker Professor and Lawyer Ken Attafuah
Professor Ken Attafuah is a lawyer who trains others on subjects such as human rights and governance. He spoke on how the law can support children, emphasizing that it is paramount that, at all levels and in all aspects of the law, the best interests of the child are served, which is called the welfare principle.
Hard work and determination are key in children reaching their potential in society. Ken Attafuah provided his own life experience as an example
As a child, Professor Attafuah was never the smartest person. In a class of 35 in primary school, he was 34th. But by adopting a positive attitude and good work ethic, he became 1st in his class. He went to a poor secondary school, but he didn’t let this environment stop him. He was inspired by his primary teacher to be perseverant and work hard, and through these values he found success. This confidence instilled by his teacher carried him to his successful career as a lawyer.
There are three primary legal Acts that Professor Attafuah noted: the Children’s Act, the Domestic Violence Act and the Juvenile Justice Act. These acts protect children from abuse, and provide the best possible means of rehabilitating children who violate the law
Children who are abused are often frightened, timid and suspicious. Abuse promotes negative attitudes. Throughout the Child Initiative Forum, children are taught about what their rights are, as it enables them to understand both what their rights are, and how to ensure they are being met. In the case of discipline, children who understand that they must not be abused in the name of discipline are less likely to continue the cycle of abuse and believe that this is the only way to discipline their own children. Discipline is not violent, it is corrective.
For those children who violate the law, the Juvenile Justice Act seeks to ensure they can be supported and rehabilitated in society. The Act provides appropriate and individual responses to the needs of juveniles who are in trouble with the law. It also ensures that their privacy rights are met, limiting the amount of stigma against these children is limited, and they are more able to learn from the experience and move forward in life in a positive and meaningful manner.
Positive attitudes enable people to face adversity. The law can help promote these attitudes and confidence, and improve the future of this country.
Mrs. Barbara Asheley Ayesi
In addition to the speakers, Mrs. Barbara Asheley Ayesi, Wesley Girls School teacher and parliamentary candidate for Cape Coast North, stopped by to greet the children and to affirm her support for the forum, saying that it is a valuable programme for building the confidence of children. She furthered by urging the children to believe in themselves, and protect themselves from being victims of abuse.
To end the day, the children took part in interactive session with several resource people, learning important lessons about the legal and justice system, child rights, child marriage, and health and wellness.