Child Abuse Cases Rising
The number of reported child sexual abuse cases increased last year by 11 percent over the year before, officials reported.
One hundred and sixty-seven cases of child sexual abuse were reported in The Bahamas last year, officials said.
One hundred and fifty-one were reported in 2010.
“Sadly the actions of too many do not create safe, happy and healthy environments for our children,” said Alpheus Forbes, deputy permanent secretary in the Ministry of Labour and Social Development.
“We are also aware that [last year’s] figures do not begin to account for cases which go undetected and unreported. Thus, we would like to appeal to anyone who knows or suspects that a child is being abused to report it to the Department of Social Services or the police.”
He added: “Child abuse tears at the very fabric of our community. We can ensure that every child matters by listening to what [they] are saying, recognizing the signs of child abuse and never assuming that someone else will do something about it.”
Officials also revealed that reported cases of child abandonment, emotional and verbal abuse increased in 2011 over 2010.
There were 615 reported cases of child abuse in 2010. The department said 499 were reported in New Providence and 116 in the Family Islands.
Last month, Minister of State for Social Development Loretta Butler-Turner revealed in the House of Assembly that there were 636 reported cases of child abuse last year.
Of that number, 547 cases were reported in New Providence and 89 were reported in the Family Islands, according to Assistance Director in the Ministry of Labour and Social Development Lorraine Duvalier.
In 2011, there were 141 reported cases of physical abuse; 11 reported cases of verbal abuse; 10 reported cases of emotional abuse; 11 reported cases of incest; 254 reported cases of neglect and 10 reported cases of abandonment.
Forbes said some of the figures, especially the increase in sexual abuse cases, were even more disturbing than the overall increase in cases of child abuse in The Bahamas.
“The immediate question is, what are the reasons for this increase?” said Forbes during a press conference at the Department of Rehabilitative and Welfare Services on Thompson Boulevard.
He explained that based on the matters referred to the department, some of the reasons included more occurrences of young Bahamians experimenting sexually; statutory rape and adult gratification and commercial sexual abuse, whereby a parent or guardian accepts money or benefits for the sexual use of a minor or child.
The majority of these types of cases involve young girls, Forbes said.
Child Protection Month will be observed next month under the theme ‘Every Child Matters’.
By Royston Jones Jr.
The Nassau Guardian