During the past five years, the Child Care Board has received a total of 4,142 referrals of child abuse, affecting 5,675 children.
This disclosure came today from Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Youth, Family and Sports, Irvine Best, while addressing a one-day national consultation on developing a Mandatory Reporting Protocol for child abuse at Hilton Barbados.
Admitting that the true extent of child abuse and neglect was not completely known, Mr. Best said: "This [the above mentioned statistics] is indeed a significant number and should be of concern to all of us. What is more significant is that these statistics only represent ???the tip of the iceberg’, since most abused and neglected children never come to the attention of government and other authorities."
He suggested that the collective energies of all stakeholders must be used to eradicate this scourge and ensure that all victims were provided with opportunities for treatment, counselling and justice.
The Permanent Secretary proffered the view that the protocol would assist agencies and departments to receive and respond to reports of all possible child abuse and neglect cases.
He explained: "It is a system whereby professionals and concerned citizens would be able to report suspected cases of abuse to the Child Care Board, or the police and have their concerns recorded in a central database, thereby ensuring that children have the best possible opportunity to have their traumatic experiences addressed."
Mr. Best noted that some professionals were now reluctant to become involved in reporting suspected cases of child abuse, but stressed that a mandatory reporting protocol would make it obligatory.
Director of the Child Care Board, Joan Crawford, described the consultation as "relevant and timely" and said the protocol would greatly assist the nation’s children.