...Sexual abuse on the rise
BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – AS St. Kitts and Nevis joined the rest of the world in recognising Thursday (Nov. 19) as Prevention of Child Abuse Day and the following day as World Children’s Day, Minister of Gender Affairs Eugene Hamilton told the nation that the Government is very concerned about the rising cases of child abuse in the Federation.
In his address in recognition of the day, Minister Hamilton told the nation that discussing the sensitive nature of abuse, specifically Child Abuse, is never an easy task, and the advent of the Coronavirus has increased the cases on record.
The Minister noted that the Government is committed to preventing further abuse and urged everyone to do something preventative if they know that something needs to be done.
Minister Hamilton defined Child Abuse “as any injury, emotional harm or death that is rendered to a child by a parent or caregiver”.
He pointed to the four types of Child Abuse - physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse and child neglect, with the latter being the most prevalent in the Federation.
According to the Minister, information from the Department of Probation and Child Protection Services shows that in 2019 neglect was the most reported form of abuse, followed by physical abuse, sexual abuse and emotional abuse; these together totaled 169 cases.
“Thus far in 2020, neglect is again the number one abuse reported, but an increase in sexual abuse now makes it the second highest form of abuse, followed by physical abuse, then emotional abuse, which also increased from 2019. These reports totaled 153 cases. In all of them, most of the victims were females, except for emotional abuse where both males and females are equally reported.
“We know that many persons do not consider one-time physical incidents as child abuse. If the child is not injured or impaired, many do not consider it abuse. We often forget the psychological and emotional scars that abuse often leaves on children,” the Minister explained.
Against that backdrop, he further explained that help would be provided which include family intervention, criminal prosecution, medical and counselling, and, if needed, the removal of the child from the household and temporarily placed in a foster home under the Foster Care Programme.