NASSAU, The Bahamas — Increasing awareness of and respect for children’s rights is becoming apparent worldwide and the protection of children is not being taken lightly, Minister of State in the Ministry of Labour and Social Development the Hon. Loretta Butler-Turner said, Thursday, March 31.
During a press conference announcing plans for Child Protection Month in April, Mrs Butler-Turner said the media dutifully reports cases where parents are punished for crimes against children.
“We can safely say that gone are the days when a parent could treat a child in any manner they deemed fit,” she said.
“Years of education have taken their toll, a good toll, I might add in terms of detection and reporting of child abuse cases.”
Mrs Butler-Turner urged the media to continue reporting and to assist the Ministry in its public awareness campaign to sensitise the public on child abuse prevention and protection measures. She also said there is still much work to be done in terms of prevention, because child abuse continues.
“In New Providence, the number of reported child abuse cases in 2010 was 499, while the figure for the Family Islands was 116 for the same period,” Mrs Butler-Turner said.
“In New Providence, the number marked the lowest amount of child abuse cases recorded since 2006. While the reduction is good, one case of child abuse is one case too many.”
For parents who need support and help to improve their parenting skills, ongoing Parent Education sessions are available through the Department of Social Services, she noted. In matters involving physical abuse, managing anger plays a major part, Mrs Butler-Turner said.
“Parents, one of the ways to avert being physically abusive is to make a continuous effort not to take any action while in an angry state. This takes a lot of discipline, but it works,” she said.”
“When an individual is angry, that person is not rational; the resultant behaviour is regretted and many indicate that they would have acted differently if they had been calm.”
Mrs Butler-Turner said the Ministry will not cease its efforts to reduce even further the number of child abuse cases; and she also encouraged any child who is being abused or anyone who knows of a child being abused to contact the Child Abuse Hotline in New Providence at 322-2763 or in Grand Bahama at 351-7763. The theme for 2011 Child Protection Month is “I am a Promise, I am a Possibility, So don’t Abuse Me”.
Throughout the month of April, various activities have been planned in New Providence and other Family Islands to further educate the community concerning child abuse. There will be parent education seminars, walkabouts, radio and television shows, newspaper articles, training of child care workers in institutions, distribution of literature, child abuse-centred school assembles and other activities.
Of special note is the introduction of the National Child Protection Council “Say No Then Go” colouring books for boys and girls, which addresses child abuse prevention. Children’s artistic work will be displayed during an Arts and Crafts Exhibition at the Mall-at-Marathon on April 30.
By Llonella Gilbert
Bahamas Information Services