Head of the island’s child protection agency is concerned about the under-reporting of child abuse and high sex abuse cases involving children.
Director of the Child Care Board, Roseann Richards pointed out that under-reporting of child abuse and the high number of physical and sexual abuse cases involving children was an issue.
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 per cent 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.
Her comments came as for the first time Barbados will observe Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month from April 1 to 30, under the theme: Speak Up, Speak Out, Report Child Abuse.
Richards explained that the month 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, 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. (BGIS)