By Karen Bong
KUCHING, March 27: Minister of Minister of Welfare, Community Well Being, Women, Family and Childhood Development Dato Sri Fatimah Abdullah has lauded the federal government for implementing a new child sex offenders registry.
“We have in fact advised childcare centres, kindergarten or anyone who wanted to hire a new employee to check with the police for their records. This is one of the steps that can be taken to ensure we employ the right person,” she said.
“However, it is not foolproof because there were cases where the individual did not have a criminal record upon checking but the trouble comes after,” she told reporters after presenting Malaysian citizenship approval letters to 10 recipients at Wisma Wanita in Jalan Sultan Tengah here today.
Besides checking employees’ records, she added, that it was crucial to arm children and caregivers with the knowledge and skills that might save them from being victimised.
“We teach them the signs of sexual abuse and about body safety such as the right way or decent way of body contact or be touched. We need to take a holistic approach towards this issue,” she emphasised.
The federal government yesterday (March 26) launched a new child sex offenders registry, with names of 3,000 paedophiles listed. It will be accessible at any state Welfare Department office from April 1.
The registry was created to help the public monitor sexual offenders and protect children from repeat offenders.
Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister Hannah Yeoh urged parents, school management, childcare centres and even religious organisations to use the new registry to screen people who could care for their children.
The ministry is also considering making it compulsory for parents and schools to apply for a background check of individuals, but she said this would take some time to come into effect.
“Our message to offenders is that we now have a database, and you will no longer be able to jump here and there after committing such acts. We are watching you,” Yeoh warned.
On mental health issue that involved young and career people, Fatimah said a study and research would be done in Sarawak’s context to get better analysis and views of the problem.
“Addressing social issues like mental health is a collective responsibility. There are non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that have come together to conduct awareness programmes and set up a counselling centre to provide important support and service for those affected,” she elaborated.
“There must be a support system before the mental disorder worsens,” she added.
Fatimah also acknowledged that the number of psychiatrists in Sarawak was insufficient and urged more students to pursue this course so that there would be more professionals to handle this problem that is increasingly widespread in the society today.
“Stress is part of everyday life but mental disorders can be tackled with early intervention,” said.
She advised young people, especially students who struggle with stress and anxiety, to speak up and talk with friends, counselling teachers, siblings and parents or even call the counselling helpline to help them deal with the problems they were facing.— DayakDaily