The Grenada National Coalition on the Rights of the Child (GNCRC) has provided statistics to show that there were over 600 reported cases of Child Abuse on the island in 2018.
These abuses take the form of Child Sexual Abuse, Physical Abuse, Children Affected by Domestic Abuse and Custody Issues, Children affected by Financial Difficulties, Emotional and Verbal Abuse, Neglect and Abandonment, and Corporal Punishment.
Officials of GNCRC told reporters at a press conference held at its office on Lucas Street, St. George’s on Monday that the numbers are very alarming for a small island like Grenada.
According to the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Child Protection Authority (CPA), Janelle Grant-Hamlet the frightening reality is that there are probably a higher number of unreported cases in the country.
“These are reports that would have reached the Child Protection Authority. We know that persons would report to other stakeholders, but these are our figures and we also know reported cases are cases that we know of. There are cases that we don’t know of, where persons may think I don’t want to get involved, I don’t want to mash up a family as we might put it locally”, she said.
Grant-Hamlet stated that the figures in reality could be a lot higher but “this is the figure that we are working with and it’s still alarming because child abuse affect lives of people”.
Child Sexual Abuse topped the list in reported cases with 203 for the year.
There were no reports of Priest within the Catholic Church being part of the statistics of Child Sexual Abuse as creating quite a stir in the international communities.
Chair of GNCRC, Jeannine Sylvester-Gill said if this problem was to become a problem in Grenada no one will be speared.
“Child sexual abuse happens at all levels and no one is going to be prevented from reporting, no one is going to be sheltered because of who they are, regardless of what level you are, whether it’s government, church, community, whatever.
“What we are saying is that we are going to ensure, whoever, wherever, we’re going to expose and we’re going to ensure our children are protected. It’s always a touchy subject especially when you get involved with church and government but, that’s our role – we are a non-governmental organisaton, we’re non-partisan, we’re non-religious but we will ensure that every child’s right is protected,.
As the statistics show, 107 children were reported to be physically abused in 2018, highlighting the issue of Corporal Punishment.
Head of the Child Abuse and Awareness Prevention Month (CAAPM) Committee, Ann Greaves noted that Corporal Punishment in all areas needs to be eradicated as it is a form of abuse.
“Corporal punishment is a sign of abuse. This was highlighted in the report that was sent to government some years ago – they said that action needs to be taken, we need to stop maltreating our children.
Corporal Punishment has to be eradicated, it is a form of abuse. These abuses have lasting effects on our children and certainly GNRC will continue to advocate for the abolishment of Corporal Punishment in the schools, home and in the judiciary. It is not in the best interest of our children to continue to treat them in that manner,” she said.
“You discipline, we’re not against discipline, please don’t get it wrong, we are not against discipline. Everyone of us needs to be disciplined and from the time a child comes from its mother, that child needs to be disciplined, but discipline isn’t taking out our frustration on our children because we don’t know how to deal with what they confronting us with. We need to find other ways of doing so”, she added.
Child Abuse and Awareness Prevention Month is being celebrated in April under the theme: “Time for Action: Stomp out Child Abuse”, as the GNCRC which is made up of different stakeholder groups wants to put an end to lip service and let action come into play.
A number of activities are planned for the month which is inclusive of “on the block” engagements to have more of an impact in terms of dealing with child abuse and a workshop for Child Care Workers aimed at ensuring that they know the various forms of child abuse and the signs.