First workshop on protecting disabled children

A workshop on protecting disabled children was conducted by Ability Bhutan Society (ABS) on 8th of July. Ten teachers who work at schools for students with special needs as well as 35 teachers from all over the country participated the training held at Changzamtog Lower Secondary School in Thimphu with the funding from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

The aim of the workshop, the country’s first of this kind, is to improve the lives of children with handicap by spreading knowledge to the society. Although every child has the right to be protected children with disability can be easily targeted for abuses, according to ABS. They are also exposed to the hazards of poverty and humanitarian crisis because of their vulnerability.

The communication officer of ABS, Cheychey, pointed that child protection was a new concept in Bhutan and there’s little awareness for child abuse. “Children with disability have been taken advantage by the people around them. This workshop will protect disabled children and help people to have knowledge on disability.”

The workshop discussed the areas of child protection issues across all the settings. Children with special needs regularly face physical, emotional and sexual abuse. Some of them don’t have access to education, health and community activities and often need to depend on themselves to live as their parents abandon or neglect them because of their disability. Also focused was the role of teachers in identifying the child abuses as well as meeting to the needs of diverse group of students at school and creating an environment that allows all children to perform their abilities. Disability is normally seen negatively, but it can give children special abilities to perceive, reflect, transcend and even be spiritual.

The participants were briefed on the protocol for reporting child abuse to concerned agencies such as Women and Child Protection Unit under the Royal Bhutan Police, National Commission for Women and Children (NCWC) and Respect, Educate, Nurture and Empower Women (RENEW).

ASB, inaugurated April 2012 by Her Majesty the Queen and adopted by the Kidu, works on a lack of education and socialization opportunities for disabled children. There are 175 children with moderate and severe disabilities registered with the organization.  Similar workshops took place on 9th and 10th July for civil servants at Ministry of Health and hospital staffs across the country as well as Civil Society Organizations (CSO).

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