The first national forum for Community Child Protection Communities (CCPC) and the Adolescent Neighbourhood Watch Group (ANWG) opened Wednesday at the Paradise Suites Hotel.
The Forum is organised by the Department of Social Welfare in collaboration with UNICEF, Child Fund, CPA and CEDAG.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Fanta Bai Secka, the director of Social Welfare, said lots of children are survivors or victims of violence, especially domestic violence, at the very home that they are supposed to be protected. She noted that most times they do not have cases of very young children violated and abused as a result of their exposure on the streets.
She stressed that the issue of child protection cannot be addressed without taking the family into consideration, saying that children and young people flourish when they are surrounded by adults, families, and communities that value them by respecting their rights and recognising their contributions and responsibility.
Madam Bai-Secka further stated that the government of The Gambia has made significant strides in creating and establishing the necessary structures and legal framework to ensure that children's rights are protected and fulfilled.
The Social Welfare director opined that it is strong families that build and ensure a better life for children, noting that it is the process of living, working, worshiping and surviving together as a family that generates love, care, support, hope and happiness.
For her part, Meritxell Relano, the deputy UNICEF representative in The Gambia, said the CCPCs and ANWGs were formed in 2007 and were meant to be community-based child protection mechanisms that also serve as frontline child protection actors. She explained that the forum is meant to bring CCPCs and ANWGs to learn from each other and share experiences and network among themselves.