Governor General Dame Cecile La Grenade has described child abuse as a national tragedy affecting hundreds of children and families, and has called on the public to work towards having a society that is free of child abuse.
“We need to work together to help heal the wounds of those suffering from their experiences of childhood abuse. Besides supporting and strengthening families so they can become a strong and cohesive unit, we have to abandon negative attitudes and belief systems that perpetuate the harmful practices so that we can prevent such tragedies from occurring,” she said in an address to declare April as Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness month.
“As parents, guardians, teachers and leaders, we are entrusted with the responsibility of rearing these ‘little people’,” she said.
“We are obligated to provide them with a safe environment free from physical, sexual, emotional abuse and neglect so they can achieve their fullest potential,” she said in a radio and television broadcast.
Dame Cecile said that as Grenadians, “we share a genuine concern for children, we generally see them as vulnerable and in need of care.
“However, many of us grew up in families with the “tough love concept” – “licks didn’t kill me and it won’t kill them” approach to raising children. Yes, we survived in spite of our own childhood experiences of abuse and sometimes we can only imagine a society where we adopt the same approaches that we are accustomed to,” she said, while explaining that it is important for families to be strengthened so they can effectively manage stress and at the same time be provided with the right tools to enable them to appropriately deal with challenges in caring for children.
“Imagine a society where children are confident because their lives have been filled with encouragement, where children love themselves because they are surrounded by acceptance and approval, where children are respectful because they were taught that they are precious and valuable and see others in the same way,” she said.
“Imagine a Grenada where children believe in truth and fairness because their life experiences confirm that fairness and justice will prevail; where children are trusting because they feel safe and know they will be protected from all forms of harm whether at home, at school or in the community. Many of us were robbed of this opportunity, to grow up in a society like this, but we should not rob our children of it as well,” she added.
Organised by the Grenada National Coalition on the Rights of the Child, the month of awareness will involve a cross section of activities including community road sessions where activities will be held with persons to educate them about child abuse and its negative impact on society.