Director of the Child Care Board, Joan Crawford, is hoping to have the Mandatory Reporting Protocol to assist with the management of child abuse in hand, by year-end.
She made this disclosure recently during a press conference at the Warrens Office Complex, to launch Child Month activities, being celebrated in May.??
The Protocol, Ms. Crawford noted would offer a greater level of protection to the nation’s children by identifying and correcting some of the inadequacies that currently exist in responding to child abuse.
"What this will do is set out the standards that persons involved in working with children should adopt.?? For example, reporting times, how the evidence will be collected, etcetera.?? So, in essence what we would be doing is helping the agencies that are involved in child abuse to prepare the evidence better and have it forwarded in a timely manner… In addition to that, we continue to work with the Royal Barbados Police Force to ensure that the referrals are investigated in a timely manner and that whatever information we have, we forward to them, because ultimately the process lies with the Police and the Director of Public Prosecutions when it come to the cases being addressed in the court system," she explained.
Child abuse reports, whether emotional, physical, neglect or sexual, are sometimes submitted to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, private doctors, the Ministry of Education, the church, police, or non-governmental social care organisations. However, some cases are not reported for various reasons, and even if they are reported, the information is often not conveyed to the Board, which has legislative responsibility for the care and protection of the island’s children.
The CCB head expressed concern that some parents refused to or did not allow children to give evidence.?? "Through our public education we try to let parents know that it is an offence and justice needs to be done.?? However, there is the concern that it is very traumatic for the children to go through the court system and then sometimes persons are of the view that if there is a child as a result of the [sexual] assault, prosecuting the child’s father is a problem," she remarked.??
To address this, the CCB also runs a survivor group to prepare children who have been the victims of assault for the court process.???? Last year, 10 girls who were sexually assaulted participated in a survivors’ therapy group for a six-week period.
With the Protocol, Ms. Crawford suggested that the CCB would be in a better position to collate statistics and manage the process of dealing with child abuse victims and perpetrators.?? However, better collaboration among social care agencies, was key for a proper functioning Protocol.??