Prime Minister discussing the negative??impact of child abuse on children during a courtesy call with UNICEF’s representative Khin-Sandi Lwin.??(A. Miller/BGIS)

The scourge of child sexual abuse and its impact on children took centre stage when the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), representative Khin-Sandi Lwin paid a courtesy call on Prime Minister Freundel Stuart.

During the meeting at Parliament recently, Ms. Lwin, who was accompanied by UNICEF’s Regional Director for the Americas and the Caribbean Regional Office in Panama, Bernt Aasen, acknowledged the sensitivity of child sexual abuse issues on the child and the family.

They were also impressed with the Minister of Family, Culture, Sports and Youth, Stephen Lashley’s, commitment to breaking the stigma and encouraging victims and their families to denounce child sexual abuse, during the launch of the organisation’s Breaking the Silence Campaign.

In turn, the Prime Minister described child sexual abuse as "troublesome" and noted: "A lot of adult misbehaviour can be traced to child sexual abuse.?? It is a huge problem which we are trying to confront.?? In order to tackle it, we have to rip the problem into the open … so that corrective action can be taken," Mr. Stuart advised.

Historically, he said mothers tried to protect their daughters from possible abuse but in recent times, boys had become "just as exposed to this danger as girls are".

"…You cannot turn a blind eye to the existence of this problem at all.?? So, here in Barbados, we feel very strongly about it [child abuse] and as far as possible, we [government] will do whatever is required to root it out.?? Of course, that is a big challenge because the predator has secured the confidence and trust of the prey and, therefore, the victim is not inclined to complain because of confidence issues.

"However, we have to get to the bottom of it …so that people and children will know when they are being exploited."


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