Child abuse and the law’s provisions for the protection of children were the topics of discussion at the last day of the seminar hosted by the Grand Bahama Methodist Women’s Circuit on Saturday.
With Saturday being the final day of April, the month designated as Child Protection Month, it was appropriate that these topics were chosen.
Attendees heard from Pauline Bowen-Forbes of the Department of Social Services as well as Magistrate Gwendolyn Claude.
During her address, Bowen-Forbes noted that child abuse, in various forms, happens every day in homes across the country.
She shared statistics from the department, noting that in the year 2010, there were 499 cases of child abuse on the island of New Providence, while there were 116 in the Family Islands.
“Now remember, these were the cases that were reported, not the cases that weren’t, so think about the cases that weren’t reported and think of how terrible the figure is,” she said.
She noted that the incidence of child abuse is more prevalent than many people would like to believe.
“The protection of our children is the responsibility of everybody – not just Social Services. It demands that you and I invest in the future by stepping up to the plate and becoming more involved in the life of a child by ensuring that their needs are met.”
Magistrate Claude spoke about three acts in particular that affect children – the Status of Children act, the Inheritance Act and the Child Protection Act.
“That is, whether I am the product of a sweetheart, a fling… I am equal to those children which are lawful or from the union of a man who is married to a woman,” she explained.