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EDITORIAL: Child Care Board must engage the public


BARBADOS NATION

EDITORIAL: Child Care Board must engage the public

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THE PUBLIC GLARE has been on the Child Care Board (CCB), given the recent negative publicity surrounding a number of child protective issues. Children dying or being made to endure severe abuse are things for which the public will have low tolerance.

For many years we have heard from the CCB about various incidents of abuse and neglect. The recent reported incidents show that the situation seems to be out of control.

The board has undertaken its work behind a veil of privacy over the years and has had  a relatively good track record until now.  It has never attracted the type of outcry that is happening today.

Based on the storm of negative posts on social media, it is evident that many Barbadians believe that too many children are having their trust betrayed. The apparent inability of the CCB to arrest the abuse and/or neglect of a growing number of this country’s children certainly is not winning it any support.

The situation has clearly been fuelled by the claims from some that the board has been either non-responsive or very tardy in dealing with those concerns of abuse (real or suspected).

Let’s hear the director

The Child Care Board cannot and must not act and operate as it did in the past. A good starting point is for the director of the agency, as the day-to-day leader, to be seen and heard more so than its chairman, as has been the case in recent times.

It is also important that the agency, on a quarterly basis, without breaching its privacy protocols, keeps the public informed on cases involving neglect and abuse. Admittedly,  child abuse and neglect are not simple issues to resolve and any effective response will have to involve both the board’s policies and certainly staffing issues.

The resolution of child neglect and abuse cannot be left totally at the door of the CCB. There are parents – and indeed many single parents – who are in need of counselling; and the ability of some parents to cope with the raising of their children is suspect.

We cannot overlook rising unemployment and substance abuse, as well as the related strains these can cause on many families. The solution often is a parent who recognises the need to get counselling, a spouse who intervenes when the partner is abusing an offspring and the alertness of a neighbour who suspects child abuse and takes action.

The Child Care Board may find it necessary to run an outreach programme to highlight simple things: identifying the warning signs of child abuse; what to do and how to respond if abuse is suspected; and how to take action. It must also outline how  quickly it responds.

Quick intervention at every stage may make a big difference for an at-risk child.

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