Earlier this year a primary school Head Teacher in Guyana forced two of his students to hold down another child and beat them to the point of requiring medical care. It was only after this story became public that the teacher was transferred to another school. This isn’t a unique occurrence in Guyana; this kind of violence happens regularly. To end this violence against children, a group of national and local actors, including Family for Every Child member ChildLinK, recently presented their findings and their recommendations for the Government of Guyana at the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the United Nations (UN) in Geneva. At the same event, they also called for an end to sexual violence against children in Guyana. ChildLinK works to empower children in such difficult situations through centres for abused children.

Keeping children’s lives free from violence, exploitation and abuse is key to Guyana’s ability to develop humanely, justly and prosperously as a nation. But violence and abuse are still too prevalent in children’s lives, and policy-makers haven’t done enough to prevent children from experiencing it. Corporal punishment of children in Guyana remains lawful in the family home, in alternative care and in schools. Moreover, a new education bill, supported by a 1894 law and put forward by the Education Minister, maintains teachers’ right to use corporal punishment against children.

In June 2014, ChildLinK brought together national and local actors in a series of consultations to highlight issues of corporal punishment affecting children and their families in Guyana. A report by the group outlining key recommendations was presented to the UN in Geneva this month. These recommendations include the abolishment of corporal punishment in schools, ending the criminalisation of youth due to truancy and absenteeism, the creation of a registry of offenders for teachers who exercise harsh punishments and the need for decision-makers to reverse the trend of sanctioned violence to children across all settings.

Civil society in Guyana has played a longstanding and supportive role to government in assessing and documenting progress against human rights and consistently raising the concern of the high levels of violence against children.” – Omattie, ChildLinK

ChildLinK are confident that the process of the UPR has the ability to catalyse further action and accountability within Guyana to advance the progress made to date and to create more impact for Guyana’s children.