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Protecting our children

Keeping our children safe

Opinion

Protecting our children

Sami Muirhead says Child Protection Week is a timely reminder to thank the men and women who fight to protect our children from harm.

Strong people stand up for themselves. Stronger people stand up for others.”

It is a commonly used saying I have always loved. I had the privilege of hosting activities to launch Child Protection Week on the Sunshine Coast.

The region’s best and brightest gathered in one room as they do once a year to share their knowledge and tips on helping fight the good fight.

It was a pretty special bunch of people and they all shared one common trait: they’re all dedicated to helping kids.

The professionals include police officers, nurses, teachers, foster care workers and child psychologists.

They are our army of superheroes fighting the monsters who sexually abuse our kids, or helping to find homes for children where they will be safe and go to sleep with food in their stomachs.

It is a very real fight despite the fact most of us go about our lives blissfully unaware of the monsters in our midst or the parents who simply cannot look after their kids.

Detective Senior Sergeant Dave Sommerville is with the Child Protection Agency and says we should not make the mistake of thinking only strangers want to hurt our children.

“It’s not just stranger danger we need to think about as mostly a child is offended by someone they know,” he says.

“A member of their family, an uncle or an aunt or a neighbour may be sexually abusing a child.

“It is often someone the child knows, so parents need to talk to their kids to remind them if something happens that doesn’t feel quite right they can talk to their parents or a teacher or someone they trust.”

It raises questions about what age your child should go to sleepovers doesn’t it?

Child Protection week made me think about how much I love my own children and how grateful I am that we have these people working to protect our kids from evil.

It also reminded me of a tragic story that affected me deeply when I covered it in 1998.

The little boy at the centre of the horror nearly 20 years ago was dubbed ‘the boy in the box’.

I was a journalist working for the local news at the time when we were called to a Yandina caravan park.

‘Mathew’ had 100 cigarette burns, a broken leg and an axe wound to his head.

He had been forced to drink his own urine and live in a box under a bed for two weeks until a neighbour answered his calls of help.

I often wondered what happened to Mathew. I know he eventually went into foster care.

I have a three-year-old now with chubby legs and an infectious giggle.

I do not for the life of me understand how anyone could inflict pain on a child of this age.

But I have thought of him often over the past two decades and only hope he got a second chance in life and is loved and secure today.

So on behalf of all the mums and dads on the Coast, we thank all those who work in child protection and keep our world a little safer.

If you, or a child you know is experiencing difficulty, contact Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800 or visit kidshelpline.com.au 

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Sami Muirhead is a radio announcer, blogger and commentator. For more from Sami tune into Mix FM.

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