For the first time in its history, Barbados will observe Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month from April 1 to 30, under the theme: Speak Up, Speak Out, Report Child Abuse.
Director of the Child Care Board, Roseann Richards, pointed out that the agency was concerned about the under-reporting of child abuse, and the high number of physical and sexual abuse cases involving children.
She noted that in 2019, there were 529 cases of child abuse, of which 21.5 per cent of cases were of sexual abuse, and 22.8 percent of physical abuse.
This, she said, compared with 2020, when there were 476 cases of reported child abuse, of which 111 were for physical abuse and 106 were for sexual abuse. Last year’s reported cases stood at 489; 114 were for physical abuse and 115 for sexual abuse.
She explained that the month of activities was designed to draw attention to the issues, and encourage individuals and organisations to play their part to make Barbados a safer place for children and families.
However, Ms. Richards pointed out that protective factors were present in some families and should also be highlighted to reduce the risk and prevalence of child abuse and neglect.
These include encouraging and nurturing attachment; providing parents with knowledge of parenting; enhancing parental resilience; providing positive support for parents; developing social and emotional competence of children, and giving children a voice.
“April is a time not just to observe, but to support the critical role that communities play in reporting child abuse. Everyone’s participation is crucial,” the Director said.
She added that connecting with families and communicating with children were acts that communities could undertake to prevent child abuse and neglect.
The month of activities is expected to kick off on Monday, April 4, with the launch of the month of activities. It will be hosted by Minister of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs, Kirk Humphrey, at the Ministry’s headquarters, Warrens Office Complex, Warrens, St. Michael, beginning at 10:00 a.m.
In addition, a blue ribbon campaign will be launched, and persons are encouraged to wear blue every Friday to support the effort to stop child abuse.
A webinar, entitled Neglect Beyond Food, Clothing and Shelter, Part II, the Discussion Continues, will come off on Friday, April 8, at 10:00 a.m. The month will conclude with a Walk Against Abuse on Saturday, April 30, at 4:30 p.m., and participants will be encouraged to wear electric blue.
For further information on how to become involved in the month of activities, persons may call the Child Care Board at 535-2800.