Two-thirds Zimbabwean children exposed to abuse-UNICEF

Two-thirds Zimbabwean children exposed to abuse-UNICEF

TWO-THIRDS of children in Zimbabwe have experienced some sort of abuse and are vulnerable to mental health challenges, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has announced.

UNICEF revealed this in a statement released recently stating that abuse, neglect and other adverse childhood experiences are the main preventable causes of poor mental health.

The country celebrated World Action Day for mental health this week.

The UN Agency urged government and other stakeholders to give more attention to mental health of children and adolescents.

“More than two thirds of children in the country experience some form of violent discipline and over a third of girls suffer from sexual violence before their 18th birthday,” UNICEF Representative in Zimbabwe, Tajudeen Oyewale, said.

Oyewale said mental health might well impact on many children and adolescents as several forms of violence against children are prevalent in the country.

The official highlighted that Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown measures exacerbated protection risks among children and adolescents, contributing to increased mental health challenges.

“School closures and the loss of learning opportunities for more than 4.5 million children in Zimbabwe have also impacted on mental health.”

According to Oyewale, the real scale and nature of mental health challenges faced by children and adolescents in Zimbabwe was still unknown, urging more research to allow the gathering of evidence to better understand the issue and respond effectively.

UNICEF called upon all concerned stakeholders for increased attention for the mental health of children and adolescents.

“More investments in parenting programmes are needed  so that parents and caregivers can provide much sought safety and security for children and adolescents to flourish and thrive.

“Mental health issues, particularly when it relates to children and adolescents, are still a taboo in many societies in Zimbabwe, hence, breaking the silence around mental health is urgently needed.”

UNICEF Zimbabwe is rolling out a campaign to promote public debate on the mental health of children and adolescents, including through a series of radio talk

Source : NEW Zimbabwe

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