As the curtain comes down on this year???s Child Month activities, parents are being advised that Barbados is still recording too many cases of child abuse in all the various categories.

Child Abuse Coordinator with the Child Care Board (CCB), Colin St. Hill, lamented that there were too many incidents of physical abuse, stating that some parents were still using inappropriate means of disciplining their children, including beating them with wires or hoses. As a result, they had unexplained bruises, while others had various fractures, which he opined were sometimes because the children were left unsupervised.

At the start of the month, the Director of the CCB, Joan Crawford, reported that for the period April 1, 2008, to March 31, 2009, there were over 1000 referrals for child abuse. She disclosed that 257 of those cases were for physical abuse, 163 for sexual abuse, 583 for neglect, 62 for emotional abuse and three for abandonment.

Mr. St. Hill identified poverty, unemployment and under-employment within families as factors which contributed to child abuse. ???Sometimes if persons do not have enough money or proper housing conditions, those issues cause them to sometimes neglect their children or turn a blind eye to the abuse that is taking place. But, parents should bear in mind that abuse can and does have an impact on children, whether it is in the short or long term,??? he said.

Therefore, the Child Abuse Coordinator urged parents to always ensure their children were safe, not to go out and leave them unattended and never allow them to continue in an abusive situation. ???Parents should always know their children???s whereabouts and who they interact with. One has to be extra careful, so before your child goes to the neighbour, you should be aware of the type of environment that exists in that household???

???One can never be 100 percent sure, but there are certain observations and safety measures that we as parents should put in place to protect our young ones,??? Mr. St. Hill stressed.??

For those children who are currently being abused, he pleaded with them to ???tell someone that they trust???, so the Board could be contacted and the necessary assistance given. He suggested that total family support during that time was critical for the child???s recovery process.

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