Government is taking steps to develop a Mandatory Reporting Protocol to assist with the management of child abuse.

To this end, the Division of Family of the Ministry of Youth, Family and Sports, in collaboration with the Child Care Board (CCB), will be hosting a one-day consultation for its stakeholders on Wednesday, March 10, at Hilton Barbados.

Minister with responsibility for that portfolio, Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo, will deliver the feature address during the opening ceremony. Attorney-at-Law/Consultant, Jacqueline Sealy-Burke, will discuss "Child Protection: Why the Need for a Mandatory Reporting Protocol", and "Towards the Creation of a National Reporting Protocol: Developing a Universal Form and Legal Issues".

Director of the Child Care Board, Joan Crawford, underscored the importance of the protocol, explaining that it would offer a greater level of protection to the nation’s children.?? "It would help us to take those very necessary steps in identifying and correcting some of the inadequacies that currently exist in responding to child abuse.

"Some child abuse cases, whether emotional, physical, neglect or sexual, are not always reported for various reasons, and even if they are reported, the information is often times not conveyed to the Child Care Board, which has legislative responsibility for the care and protection of the island’s children," Ms. Crawford stated.

She asserted that with the protocol, the CCB would be in a better position to collate statistics, and manage the process of dealing with child abuse victims and perpetrators. The official said: "Both the Ministry and the Board are fully cognisant that other measures and systems would have to be put in place or operating more efficiently to give proper effect to a Mandatory Reporting Protocol."

Ms. Crawford identified a number of areas, including the legal system and better collaboration among social care agencies, as key for a proper functioning protocol.

Child abuse reports are sometimes made to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, private doctors, the Ministry of Education, the church, police, or non-governmental social care organisations.??

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