Members of the National Child Protection Council (NCPC) made their first official visit to Grand Bahama last week to spread awareness about its, ‘Say No Then Go’ Program and Child Protection Month, which is observed during the month of April.
The Council held a press conference on Wednesday, April 5 at The Bahamas Information Services (BIS) offices, where the initiative’s importance was explained.
Dr. Novia Carter, Co-Chairperson of the NCPC said that the Council is a government appointed committee whose chief responsibility is to ensure the protection of the rights of all children throughout The Bahamas. This is done through the collaboration of various government agencies using their resources to make the council as effective as possible.
“Over the last four years the Council has taken its fight nationally,” she revealed.
This year as they celebrate Child Protection Month, the Council decided to visit three Family Islands – Abaco, Grand Bahama and Eleuthera.
According to Carter, the purpose of these visits is to help residents realize the effects of child abuse on the youth and the country as a whole. In order to deliver its message, the Council has launched several programs, this year’s first program is, ‘Say No Then Go.’
“Our program explains to children, in a child friendly way, how to say not to child abuse. It helps them understand what is sexual abuse and it also helps them realize that there are persons in the community that are there to help them,” she said.
Cater emphasized that the government has provided toll free phone numbers for persons who want to report or are seeking help regarding child abuse. The hotline number for Grand Bahama is 351-7763 and for New Providence the numbers are 322-2763 and 422-2763.
They are available throughout the Commonwealth and are featured on the special ‘Say No Then Go’ books.
“This program is designed to ensure that all children know not only their rights and responsibilities as young persons, but also how to protect themselves from child abuse,” she said.
The books also include key rules for children on how they can keep themselves safe.
“Number one is it’s my body, number two is if I have uh-oh feelings then something is wrong … the third safety rule is, of course, say no then go. For us this is a wonderful step, because in step three we are helping kids be able to stand up, be assertive and say no to other things. Safety rule number four is keep telling until someone believes you. And, our last safety rule is it’s never my fault,” she said.
Carter stated that they have moved away from the ‘Stranger Danger’ concept to help children understand that sometimes the abuser is a familiar person.
She revealed that the program was targeted towards primary school aged children, but the council has actually worked with high school students as well.
Carter added that their second major initiative is the ‘Stop and Think’ Program. There is also a program named, ‘I Got A Right,’ which focuses on children knowing their rights. Another program by the Council is geared toward parents, ‘Parenting With Dignity’ and the newest program ‘The Tell Me’ Campaign.
The Council works with schools to launch their campaigns and trained guidance counselors to carry the child protection message foreword. This year they are focusing on the Pinwheel Campaign, which presents a positive symbol for child protection.
“Previously the international symbol for child abuse has been the blue ribbon, internationally we’ve moved away from the blue ribbon because of its negative connotation,” she said.
Carter explained that the ribbon derived from a grandmother, who tied blue ribbons on her car antenna to remind people of the abuse her daughter and grandchildren had suffered.
Even though the International Committee used the blue ribbon for years, in the last two years the pinwheel has been the symbol for child protection.
Carolynn Ferguson, Grand Bahama representative of the National Child Protection Council stated that the council seeks to sensitize the public to child protection, which is an important matter.
“I feel like it’s the most important board that has been appointed by the government, because it deals with our children, the future of our nation,” she said.
Ferguson added that the Council spent three days on the island visiting schools in East, Central and West Grand Bahama, informing Grand Bahamians of child protection.
“I really and truly wish the island of Grand Bahama is touched and aware of what is going on,” she said.
Council representatives thanked the local media specifically BIS and the Department of Social Services for their work regarding this initiative.
Published Monday, April 10, 2017