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a�?Only 2,7 percent of abused young people know where to get helpa��

Andile Tshuma
THE United Nations Childrena��s Fund (Unicef) has revealed that less than three percent of children in Zimbabwe are aware of the places they can approach if they fall victim to abuse.

The shocking statistics were posted on the Unicef official Twitter account on Wednesday.

a�?Only 2,7 percent of young people who experience abuse know where to go to get professional help in Zimbabwe.

Unicef supports Govt to improve access by child abuse victims to co-ordinated comprehensive child protection services,a�? read a statement in its official Twitter account.

According to Unicef Zimbabwe, child abuse casts a shadow of a lifetime in a child, hence the need to ensure that children are protected and that there are adequate structures in communities to cater for children who have fallen victim to abuse.

The consequences of children being unaware of the vital support systems available for them is that many cases of abuse will go unreported if children do not know where to report and who to talk to.

Unicef has also called on the public to be heroes for children through assisting police and child rights advocates by reporting any child abuse in communities through the toll free helpline number 116.

Unicef Goodwill Ambassador Priyanka Chopra called for increased awareness and support for child victims of sexual violence. The actress made an emotional visit to Zimbabwe recently, where she met child survivors of sexual violence and heard their harrowing stories.

a�?When I met these survivors, young brave women and children, and listened to their experiences, it just broke my heart,a�? said Chopra. a�?I will never forget their stories.a�?

Organisations such as Childline Zimbabwe remain committed to protecting and helping children who fall victim to all forms of child abuse.

a�?As Childline, we are unwavering in our fight against child abuse. We remain committed to ending any forms of violence towards children,a�? said Childline Zimbabwe on their Twitter account.

According to researchers, most children are abused by people they know personally and the most prevalent form of abuse, sexual abuse, is usually perpetrated by family members or people that children trust.

Although child sexual abuse is a significant public health problem globally, its incidence, prevention, and management is less well described in resource-poor settings. In poorer settings, prevention initiatives assume even more importance since resources for managing abused children are severely limited.

According to Research Gate, although Zimbabwe has a well-established legal and regulatory framework to protect children from child sexual abuse, implementation of existing policies was weak. Financial, human, and material resource constraints are frequently cited to explain limited prevention activity.

Effective strategies for the prevention of child sexual abuse should focus on implementing existing legislation, targeting schoolchildren and getting community involvement.