ZAMBIA Civic Education Association executive director Judith Mulenga says children’s privacy should be protected as they often do things not aware of the consequences.
Commenting on a video circulating on social media of a young boy who was allegedly caught stealing onions from a woman who is telling him that she will take him to the police while he pleads for other forms of punishment, Mulenga said the child had been permanently injured by the person who took the video and worse uploaded it online.
She said the ‘madam’s’ ignorance about children’s rights and her duty of care towards the child was alarming.
“She’s having a laugh at the child’s expense. But this boy will never recover from this damaging negative digital footprint because he will grow up into a man whose reputation is already damaged through some childhood delinquency. The best interest of the child was not considered by the madam at all,” Mulenga noted. “What is in the video is an allegation. Therefore, the principles of justice even concerning a child are the same. He is innocent until found guilty by a competent authority. This excitable ‘madam’ is obviously not competent. Indeed, the boy was right when he asked the woman to take him to his mother because the principle of child justice demands that the family should be immediately informed of the child’s transgression.”
Mulenga said the boy and his family’s privacy and reputation had been dishonoured.
“He is a child who needs rehabilitation and then integration back into the community and not this notoriety. When we, in the CSO sector, demand for the enactment of the child code Bill, our cry falls on deaf ears. The child code Bill is supposed to cure this injustice to children. It should spell out how adults and especially teachers should handle instances of delinquency,” she said.
Mulenga said delinquency acts of children and young people need to be prevented in society since delinquency was a driver of criminality.
She said when prevention fails then rehabilitation needs to take place and it was not the child’s responsibility to rehabilitate itself but in a well-functioning child justice system the issue would be handled in a multi-disciplinary manner including psychologists and social welfare officers.
“This is not a police matter. It is a diversion matter. Zambia has a Diversion Policy to deal with children like this boy in the video but as usual in our dysfunctional nation the policy has become a top shelf document in people’s offices while obviously vulnerable children like this boy are at risk of becoming hard core criminals as the nation howls with laughter at their expense!” Mulenga complained.
She said the child needed to be diverted away from the police and the criminal justice system if he was to be helped.
Mulenga said the cyber security and cybercrimes Act of 2021provides for child online protection.
“Therefore, ZCEA demands that ZICTA moves in and earns that tax payers’ money they gobble up every month! They need to arrest this madam and her accomplice or accomplices to send a strong signal that children are not objects to be treated anyhow by anyone,” she said. “For goodness sake Zambia ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in December 1991 and teachers are still ignorant about children’s rights and their responsibilities towards children they handle? It is unacceptable.”
Mulenga said children’s privacy should be protected as they often do things not aware of the consequences.
“Splashing a child in the media without protecting its identity is a violation of the child’s right to privacy. Society tends to ignore such groups of children as if deserving what they get,” said Mulenga.