From left to right: Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs, Gabrielle Springer; Deputy Chairman of the Child Care Board, Dr. Carol Jacobs; Minister Kirk Humphrey; UNICEF Representative to Barbados, Dr. Aloys Kamuragiye; and Director of the Child Care Board, Roseann Richards, in discussion following the launch. (GP)

The protection of Barbados’ children is high on the agenda as the island marks its inaugural Child Abuse Awareness and Protection Month, which runs from April 1 to 30, under the theme Speak Up, Speak Out, Report Child Abuse.

Minister of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs, Kirk Humphrey, has issued a challenge for society to assist in ending child abuse, which could have a “really ugly stain on the character of Barbados”.

He was addressing a press briefing to launch the month of activities in the HIV/AIDS Conference Room at the Ministry’s Warrens, St. Michael office.

Noting that everyone traditionally looked to Government to provide the solution, Mr. Humphrey said the reality was people lived in families, communities and societies, and therefore everyone had a role to play in reducing the numbers.

He lamented the fact that the contemporary Barbadian society had moved away from the notion that it took a village to raise a child, but urged residents to “get back to some of the old days”.

Deputy Chairman of the Child Care Board, Dr. Carol Jacobs, noted that the Board was delighted to support the initiative; to bring recognition to the issue; sensitise and empower communities to speak up when there is child abuse.

“The whole issue of child abuse is one that involves a team.  It involves doctors, lawyers, counsellors, police force, community members, and of course the Child Care Board, and we are very pleased to be able to spotlight this issue and as I say to encourage people to be speaking up,” she said, noting that the country and communities needed to be involved in the process.

UNICEF Representative to Barbados, Dr. Aloys Kamuragiye, also commended the initiative to launch the month of awareness, stating that while Barbados was successful in its child survival and child mortality rates, the number of child abuse cases reported were only a “tip of the iceberg”.

He urged members of the public to report all suspected cases of child abuse to the authorities, even if it turned out not be the case.  “Put children first,” he urged. Dr. Kamuragiye also gave Government the assurance that UNICEF was committed to supporting Barbados’ agenda, especially as it relates to the protection of children.

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