NASSAU: A failure to curb the scourge of child abuse in The Bahamas could have dire consequences for abused persons and the Bahamian society as a whole over the short, medium and/or long term, Minister of Social Services and Community Development Melanie S. Griffin said.
Mrs. Griffin said a key component of ending and/or reducing child abuse in The Bahamas, is by reporting it.
“Understandably, victims suffer the greatest consequences as child abuse is obviously a very traumatic experience, and its impact can be profound,” Mrs. Griffin said.
“Abuse, neglect or molestation can overwhelm a child’s ability to cope and cause emotional responses that often stay with the victims for a long time.
“We need to continue to send a strong message to perpetrators that no form of abuse of our children will be tolerated and that those who do so, will face the consequences for their actions.”
Addressing the annual Church Service for Child Protection Month (held Thursday, April 10 at Evangelistic Temple, Collins Avenue), Mrs. Griffin encouraged the almost 500 preschool, primary school and secondary school students in attendance to make it a priority to learn the numbers of the National Hotline “by heart” as it can be the difference between life or death.
“All of us, especially our children, need to know these numbers – 322-2763 or 422-2763 – by heart and do not hesitate to use them if necessary,” Mrs. Griffin said.
“The call to the National Hotline to report a suspected case of abuse may mean the difference between life and death for a child and it may be the only means by which a child and the family receives the necessary intervention to end the abusive situation,” Minister Griffin added.
Mrs. Griffin said research shows that child abuse is associated with adverse health and mental health effects which can last for a lifetime. She said there is a “need” to continually educate children as to what constitutes abuse and what are some of the actions they can take to protect themselves.
“The need to continue to raise awareness on this issue is real, as while a goodly number of child abuse cases are reported, we are aware that there are many others that go unreported.
“This is all the more startling as we often boast with pride that we are a Christian Nation and should regard it as our sacred duty to safeguard our children. We also need to be aware of the issues that can make abuse more likely to happen and seek to reduce or eliminate these,” Mrs. Griffin continued, “these could include stress on the part of parents due to any number of reasons; drug or alcohol abuse, inappropriate parenting skills, or a lack of self control on the part of others.”
Minister Griffin applauded the efforts of Their Excellencies, Sir Arthur Foulkes, GCMG, Governor-General of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, and Joan Lady Foulkes, for their efforts in assisting to raise awareness of Child Protection in The Bahamas. Sir Arthur serves as Patron of Child Protection Month, 2014. Lady Foulkes was in attendance at Thursday’s Church Service.
“I urge all citizens to renew our resolve to create a child-centred society, one that cares for and promotes the well-being of all children and one that uses the lessons from the past to build a better and brighter future for all children,” Mrs. Griffin added.
Published Saturday, April 12, 2014