A number of organisations are dedicating efforts to eliminating the abuse of youth in Barbados.
The groups and women from all cross sections of society and the diaspora met on May 1 to discuss strategies with specific focus on wards of the Government Industrial School. (GIS).
A media statement said “this group of organisations and passionate individuals will continue to network and collaborate on several initiatives that support the safety and holistic wellbeing of the wards of the state who are housed at the Government Industrial School (GIS). Preliminary initiatives are scheduled to occur in this month of May (designated as Child Month) and various short to long-term strategies will be implemented”.
Members of the groups have compiled a short-term plan and are launching events with a Silent Prayer Walk on Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 8. The Prayer Walk starts at 6 a.m. on Black Rock Main Road near its junction with Dodson Land and Griffith Lane and is to continue along Black Rock Main Road to its junction with Wavell Avenue and return.
“The situation at GIS and Dodds has sparked outrage from as far back as forty-two years and because no fundamental changes have been made to this penal system for juveniles, the outrage continues today, in 2022,” the statement said.
“The problem of systemic abuse in Barbados started during slavery and still exists today in the form of sexual, physical, and emotional abuse, that impact generations of families,” it added.
“Our long-term plan is to, through advocacy and strategic action, usher in a juvenile correctional system that is humane and underpinned by the principles of child justice. Our network of organisations in the Third Sector have and will continue to build their capacity to create programmes and deliver training to staff and care-givers of all government-run juvenile penal institutions and any other facility in need of it.”
Recent media reports have highlighted incidents at GIS which have caused concern and outrage in some areas.
During a live press conference last Saturday, Minister of Home Affairs Wilfred Abrahams announced that there will be a full operational probe at GIS.
Abrahams said no stone would be left unturned in the investigation, which is to be completed in six weeks from that date.
Minister of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs, Kirk Humphrey, also addressed the nation during the press conference. He said the Department of Family Services will play a key role and legislation relating to child justice and protection will be brought before the House shortly.
He said there will be an emphasis on social services reform.
Among the groups involved in this move to stop abuse of young people are Global Network for Cultural Development, Praise Academy for Dance, Orgasmik Intelligence, Politically In-correct, Operation Safe Space, Spiritually Aware Group, We the Forgotten Women, Barbados Youth Action Programme, Full Moon Goddess Circle, Sulam Construction & Property Management Services and Omololu The Children’s Foundation. (PR/KG)