Create lasting change for the future generation
From January to June of 2017, the Social Welfare Department have reported a total of 477 known cases of child abuse; and student suicides have been an increasing worry to the parents and caregivers of children in Hong Kong.
Viva – Together For Children (HK), raises awareness about establishing child safeguarding protocol at an institutional level. They aim to equip secondary child caregivers to promote child protection by holding talks and teaching workshops about the way to respond in sensitive situations, involving areas such as physical, sexual and emotional abuse, as well as neglect and bullying.
Parents know that nothing is more important than the protection of our children. We’re very lucky that organisations such as Viva exist. Read on to hear more about their achievements and advocacy, as well as how you can be involved in helping!
Tell us a bit about the history and mission of Viva!
Viva is the Spanish word for “life” it was established to bring life to vulnerable children. Our founder, Patrick McDonald founded Viva when he noticed that the street children of Bolivia were only fed on Mondays by kind-hearted churches and organisations. He founded Viva in 1996 in the UK, to pull together the efforts and resources those who were willing to work together to serve children and empower them with training in practical areas such as finance, governance, child protection, child safeguarding, and people care.
Viva’s mission is to inspire lasting change in children’s lives through collective action with a vision to see them safe, well and fulfilling their God-given potential. Today, we have established 38 networks in 26 countries to reach 2.2 million children.
How does your charity better equip the vulnerable children of Hong Kong?
In response to the lack of awareness on proactive child safeguarding, we launched our child protection training, policy writing and implementation services in Hong Kong. We work with various organisations such as sports clubs, schools and churches to develop child safeguarding policies based on unique situations. Our Child Protection Advisor also conducts relevant training for caregivers and guides the organisations on policy implementation. Through partnership, these organisations can clearly outline their expectations of staff when they come in contact with children. Moreover, we equip secondary caregivers to identify children at risk, as well as, handling suspected child abuse cases. Everyone has the responsibility and ability to contribute to children’s well-being.
Currently, the only government provided ‘evaluation’ to determine the suitability for working with children is the Sexual Convictions Record Check. This record check is neither mandatory nor comprehensive of the person’s previous record outside of Hong Kong. In addition, only full time staff can be asked to get this check and often, volunteers are negated from this process.
What are some things you wish people of Hong Kong would be more aware of when it comes to vulnerable children?
Children are constantly under the pressure to succeed academically and their parents suffer from an incredibly stressful working culture. More than 10 student suicides have occurred this year, and this speaks volumes about the unaddressed emotional issues of children in Hong Kong. We hope that institutions with children under their care can do more than just providing counselling post-incident and invest in proactive child protection to ensure that children are growing up in a safe and protected environment – both physically and emotionally.
Hong Kong is advanced in many areas but in regards to child protection and child rights, we are far behind as a community compared to other developed countries. We want to the local community to acknowledge the systematic lacking as a whole and to do more to advocate and view each child protection incident seriously because each child is precious.
Read more: 5 Tips on Helping Your Teen Cope
How can our readers best engage and take part in supporting your cause?
Advocacy is important! We hope that Sassy Mama readers can help advocate our proactive child safeguarding work to institutions they trust their children with. Not only to ensure their child’s protection, but also the countless others. The more people that view this as essential in our community, the bigger impact we can have in the city of Hong Kong!
To support the many other projects we have worldwide, we also invite Sassy Mama readers to consider donating to Viva. There are many children in developing countries who are often vulnerable to exploitation due to poverty. Viva works to tackle these issues by empowering families and local networks through building Child Development Centres, teaching skills that can help families earn income from home, and providing back-to-school essential support and encourage children to receive an education. To support us, please visit: give-hk.viva.org.
If you are interested in our child protection services in Hong Kong, please feel free to contact our child protection advisor, Kanice Ho who would be happy to connect with you!