PETALING JAYA: A child rights activist has urged society to help in making sure children never feel the need to run away from home.
This comes after a Bernama report revealed that a 12-year-old girl had fled from her home in Taman Puchong Prima, Puchong, near here late at night after claiming to have been often abused with a cane by her father.
A passerby found her at a petrol station at 12.30am on Monday and took her to a police station.
Speaking to FMT, Voice of Children executive director Sharmila Sekaran said running away from home should never be an option.
“Most of the children who run away from home end up on the streets and many terrible things can happen to them.
“Some end up being violated. So you may run away from being physically abused but end up being sexually abused.”
Sharmila said the problem was that many children who run away from home aren’t made aware that they have other options. But creating this awareness itself poses a challenge, especially for younger children.
“Slightly older children, aged above 12, can be instructed and educated. For younger children, it’s harder.”
Sharmila said it was the responsibility of the adult who comes into contact with the child to be alert and ascertain the situation.
“If the children stop doing well in school or misbehave, it can be a sign that a child is unhappy at home or is not coming from a secure or safe home environment.
“It’s up to the adult who comes into contact with the child to make inquiries,” she said, adding that these adults could be relatives, teachers or even doctors when a child goes to hospital.
“What we need is a change in our thinking because the reality is that even a child who has gone off-track and has been a little wayward can be rehabilitated.
“Obviously, the older the child, the harder the rehabilitation but it can still be done.
“Let’s assume this child is really naughty at home and so the parent feels the need to discipline her with a cane.
“We (Voice of Children) are completely against corporal punishment and the fact is that even a naughty child can be helped with the right kind of intervention.”