Watch comments you pass about children, they could be criminal – Legal practitioner advises

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    A legal practitioner, women and children’s rights advocate, Marian Darlington, has warned against passing needless or abusive comments about children as it could amount to a criminal offense.

    “It is not okay for you to look at the child’s picture and make such [abusive or needless] comments…you can’t do that even as a joke because it is not funny,” she warned.

    “If it is a joke to you, then there is something wrong with you,” she told Joy News’ ‘The Law’ host, Joseph Ackah-Blay.

    There have been criticisms that most children who face abuse tend to have difficulty finding justice hence a continued practice in societies.

    But, speaking on the topic ‘Finding Justice for abused children’ on the legal show, Ms Darlington said the problem persists partly because such issues are not reported to the police.

    “As much the people who are making the comments, as much as us that we feel offended, we don’t take it seriously. We look at the comment and say that okay, it was a wrong comment, whatever, then, we go to sleep,” she said.

    “But if you were to report the person for the comments they make to the police because it is a criminal offense. If you were to do that with that passion and energy, and time as you would devote to if your child was sexually abused like defilement, then we’ll start taking these things seriously,” she added.

    “For you to see a young person’s picture and say certain things about it tells a lot about you more than the child. This is a child that is innocent, needs protection from these kinds of violence.”

    The lawyer maintained that “It doesn’t matter that your offense was not the actual sexual activity, yours was what you said or typed on the internet, that is why we have these laws protecting children so yes, we have laws.”

    She observed that people, unfortunately, do not recognise that their speech could be violent, abusive or harassing to someone.

    “Especially with sexual harassment, people say oh but it was a joke, but this comment was said lightly.”

    Throwing more light on the seriousness of such comments, the legal practitioner encouraged parents to report unhealthy comments passed on their wards.

    “Because if it happens to you or your child and you are not reporting it for the prosecution to be done, what is the police going to do?” she quizzed.

    “Comments are the number one on my list when it comes to sexual harassment,” she stated, noting that even adults go through some difficulty in dealing with such abuses, “how much less children.”

    Marian Darlington, however, observed that social media is great and the usage of it is what invoked, hence one cannot be prevented from posting what they want to post out there, “as long as it’s not harming the child.”

    Meanwhile, she called on caretakers, parents and guidance to recognise that there are predators online, “so what are you doing to protect your child or from same?”

    However, she further noted that as much it is the responsibility of parents to protect their children, there is the need to also educate people to know that “you don’t say this, you can’t say this.

    “It is up to us to make people aware that these things are criminal, the same way that somebody who goes to defile a child can be arrested, can be prosecuted, and possibly jailed for such acts, you can also go through the same process,” she said.

    She also called on the police to give some attention to such issues when reported, “and pursue them, prosecute them.”