Amidst all the abuse facing young people, the Ministry of Social Development and the government will be taking radical measures to tackle the problem.
Speaking at last week’s post-Cabinet Press Briefing at the Ministerial Complex, Minister of Social Development, Delma Thomas said that too many of the nation’s children are facing abuse, especially sexual and this is falling on deaf ears, not being spoken about and children are hurting.
Minister Thomas said the recent launch of the book, “Helpless Cries” by an employee of the Ministry of Social Development, Michelle Alexander has provided the motivation needed to do more to fight sexual abuse among children.
In the book, Alexander spoke about being sexually abused by her step father and was afraid to speak out.
The government minister stated that this is something that is happening every day on the island and that plans and programmes would be developed to ensure that children are safe.
Minister Thomas announced that a committee has been set up to address this particular issue.
“Cabinet started the process in appointing a committee because while we identify persons and we have spoken to persons who have served on that committee … we need terms of reference for that committee. It would be a broad-based committee that will be able to guide government policies as it relates to how we handle, how we look at the laws, what about a set offender’s registry, something that I have raised at the level of the OECS and I know that they are looking into it…anything that can deter offenders or perpetrators from getting involved with children,” she told reporters.
“A number of persons will be on that committee – looking at how we can come up with plans, programmes, laws…Sometimes you have all the laws within the law books but the implementation of the laws and what we do after those children are abused. We want to involve Child Protection Authority because they are involved with children. We have to take a radical approach to dealing with issues that confront our children. We have to go out more to the schools, to the communities,” she said.
Minister Thomas pointed an accusing finger at the perpetrators of child abuse indicating that they are everywhere in the society including the churches and made a call on the religious community to speak out more on the issue.
“As Christians and as churches we can’t sit down and when Sunday or Saturday, we go and worship and six days a week we do nothing. We, also in our churches must speak about the issue of child abuse and speak against perpetrators of child abuse; even if it’s in the church, even if it is in government, wherever they are we have to deal with the issue of our children,” she said.
The Ministry of Social Development used Michelle as a mentor and to go around talking to children in schools and communities about sexual abuse.
Minister Thomas disclosed that her ministry will continue to use this particular employee as her story resonates with many young people in the country and it is hoped that her message will help to turn things around in a child’s life.