A coordinated effort is now in place to deal with child abuse in Grenada.
A National Child Abuse Protocol for the Reporting, investigation and Management of child abuse in Grenada was recently launched on the school grounds of the St. Patrick’s Anglican School in Sauteurs.
Director of Child Protection Authority, Kallon Simon spoke of the need for child abuse to be eliminated.
Simon called for there to be zero tolerance towards child abuse and for it to become a way of life on the island.
The Child Protection Authority Director challenged professionals to report and acknowledge all suspected or actual child abuse to the agency, which is mandated by law to investigate and manage child abuse in Grenada.
“Once there is one case of child abuse not reported to the Child Protection Authority that signifies one case too many”, he said.
Simon stated that while the Authority will not interfere with the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) in its investigation, they are asking for a collaborative approach for joint investigation.
“It is imperative that the entire Police Force… and the Child Protection Authority develop mutual, collaborative, professional approach towards investigating child abuse,” he said.
Chairperson of the Child Protection Authority, Shireen Wilkinson stressed that the mandate of the Authority is to care for and protect the nation’s children from abuse and neglect in a manner that ensures that the best interests of the children are given paramount consideration.
Wilkinson indicated that child abuse prevention rests on the principle that all children should have safe, stable nurturing environment in which to grow, learn. love and play.
She is hopeful that with the launch of the protocol that perpetrators would be brought to justice.
Education Minister Anthony Boatswain who was on hand to witness the launch of the protocol believes the family structure is key in curbing child abuse.
Minister Boatswain noted that over the years there has been a serious breakdown in the family structure and that most of the people who are abused are school children.
He said if school children were constantly abused they would not be able to perform leadership roles in the future.
A Representative of UNICEF, Heather Stewart was on hand to witness the launch of the protocol.
Stewart recalled that in November 2012 the former Congress government of Tillman Thomas joined other Caricom countries in discussing the issue of sexual violence against children during a Ministerial Meeting in Barbados and pledged its concerted effort to prevent and respond to that issue.
Financial support for the protocol was provided by UNICEF.
Stewart said that in order for the protocol to be implemented there has to be behavioural changes on the part of everyone.