Check child abuse law
Legislation that permits persons not to give evidence in child abuse cases should be reviewed.
Minister of Family, Culture, Sports and Youth Stephen Lashley stated this yesterday at a Press conference to launch a month of activities marking Child Month which starts tomorrow.
“The issue of child abuse is sufficiently serious to warrant a review to ensure that we can tackle it at the legislative side,” Lashley said.
It was necessary for the current legislation to be reviewed to deal with the issue of persons opting not to give evidence in child abuse cases, he added.
Unless the legislation was amended, persons had the constitutional right to give or not give evidence and the National Reporting Protocol on Child Abuse would have to take that issue into consideration, the minister said.
“It will also allow for the development of procedures, policies and practices for the management of child abuse cases by all stakeholders and will ensure that children are provided with the necessary care counselling and judicial interventions that will redound to them and bring the problem within check,” Lashley said.T
he minister disclosed that there were 737 cases of child abuse reported in Barbados between April 1, 2010, and February 28 this year involving 1 061 children. Of that number 199 children suffered physical abuse, 151 sexual abuse, 612 neglect, 97 emotional abuse and two were abandoned.
Lashley said the number of reported cases was of grave concern as it did not reflect the actual number of occurrences as all cases were not being reported to the Child Care Board (CCB).
The director of the CCB, Joan Crawford, said that the National Reporting Protocol on Child Abuse, which was launched last year, was at a point where it could be completed by the end of the year, but a definite deadline could not be given.
“I cannot timeline myself on matters that involve inter-agency collaboration. However I would endeavour to have it done as quickly as possible,” Crawford said.
However, she added that since that national consultation last year a report was done, but the board was awaiting information from other stakeholders such as the Ministry of Health and the Royal Barbados Police Force to ascertain vital information before a final report was forwarded to the subcommittee of Cabinet which dealt with social policy.
Maureen Graham, chairman of the CCB, outlined a number of activities to be undertaken during Child Month under the theme Empower Our Families Save Our Children. Graham said the month of activities would include the launch of a child abuse campaign, a men’s forum to discuss DNA Testing And Implications For Men And Children, in addition to a forum for the youth on the topic Teenage Pregnancy: Life Before, Life After.