By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
THERE were 201 reported cases of child abuse in New Providence from July to December 2014, 86 of which were reported cases of neglect, according to Social Services Minister Melanie Griffin.
Aside from the 86 cases of neglect, Mrs Griffin said yesterday that the last six months of 2014 also saw 59 cases of physical abuse, 28 cases of sexual abuse, 17 cases of incest, four cases each of verbal abuse and abandonment and three cases of emotional abuse.
Mrs Griffin revealed the statistics during her contribution to the mid-year budget debate in the House of Assembly yesterday morning.
She said the figures for the entire Bahamas would come in the upcoming budget debate.
Mrs Griffin said that child protection remains a top priority for the Ministry of Social Services and by extension the government.
“Ongoing public service announcements, posters boards, colouring book publications, awareness sessions for children funded by this programme continue to raise the level of public awareness,” she said.
In November of last year Mrs Griffin said that her ministry was “well on the way” towards establishing a children’s registry.
The registry will be responsible for receiving, recording and referring reports of child abuse to the Child Protection Unit and to the police.
Mrs Griffin said the establishment of the children’s registry is one of a number of measures the government has undertaken, or will undertake, to ensure the protection of children, while reducing the incidents of child abuse within the country.
She also said the government is focused on, and committed to, the protection of children’s rights and the eradication of child abuse in the nation.
In January of last year, Mrs Griffin said that new research revealed that domestic violence is a major driver of the country’s crime problems.
Addressing the premiere of the docudrama “Get Out” at the New Providence Community Centre, Mrs Griffin said Bahamians cannot continue to “bury their heads in the sand” when it comes to reporting abuse within the home, as research undertaken by the Bahamas Crisis Centre shows children who are abused become desensitised to violence, and are more likely to carry weapons to school or social events.
She said violence within the family, particularly against women and children, has been an “open secret” in the Bahamas for many years.