A framework should be implemented to ensure that all victims of child abuse are provided with opportunities for treatment, counselling and justice.
Minister of Social Care, Constituency Empowerment and Community Development, Steve Blackett, made this call this morning, while addressing a Child Abuse Management Workshop at the Savannah Hotel, for stakeholders at the forefront of caring for and protecting the nation’s children.
Elaborating on the need for such an agenda, Mr. Blackett explained: “Our task today is to consider strategies and a way forward that would assist the Child Care Board, the Police Department and the medical fraternity in addressing the challenge of providing appropriate intervention and treatment to all children who have been abused.
“I am inviting all stakeholder agencies gathered here to critically analyse the information which will be presented and develop a set of policies or protocols for interagency co-operation, which would reduce the trauma associated with the act of child abuse in whatever form.”
In addition to this framework, the Minister revealed that a draft Inter-agency Reporting Protocol, commissioned by the Child Care Board, had also been presented to the Cabinet Committee on Social Policy for consideration.
This mandatory protocol, he explained, would aid in managing child abuse as it would require persons to report suspicious actions of child abuse to the relevant authorities so the matters could be investigated in a timely manner.
Mr. Blackett also shared a critical point – “child abuse is more than bruises or broken bones” – a statement which shed light on the issue of child neglect and emotional/psychological effects.
In addition, the Minister spoke on the statistics regarding the number of alleged child abuse and neglect cases which are reported to the Child Care Board. Stating that these figures may vary from year to year, he said that more than 1,000 children were referred annually to the Board for intervention.
However, Mr. Blackett reminded the participants gathered that these statistics would only reflect the cases that had actually been reported, as there were many cases of child maltreatment which were not reported to the relevant authorities.