By KHRISNA VIRGIL
Tribune Staff Reporter
REPORTED child abuse cases grew by an estimated 22 per cent in the Bahamas last year when compared to 2013, according to statistics released by Social Services Minister Melanie Griffin yesterday.
The minister said in 2014, there were 597 reported cases of child abuse by comparison to the 487 cases in 2013.
Last year, there were 243 cases of neglect, 173 physical abuse cases, 121 reports of sexual abuse, 37 cases of incest, nine cases of verbal abuse, eight abandonment cases and six emotional abuse cases.
In 2013, there were 257 cases of neglect, 113 cases of physical abuse, 95 cases of sexual abuse, five cases of verbal abuse, nine cases of emotional abuse, two cases of abandonment and 6 cases of incest.
Mrs Griffin released the statistics in the House of Assembly as she contributed to the 2015/2016 budget debate.
Speaking to parliamentarians, Mrs Griffin also stressed her ministry’s role in modernising the Bahamas. She praised the introduction of the reloadable prepaid card for beneficiaries of the food assistance programme.
As of the end of May, there were 4,463 beneficiaries of the food assistance programme in New Providence that are using the prepaid card. The ministry anticipates an additional 400 people to be added at the end of June. The card was introduced in November 2014.
In the 2014/2015 budget, the Department of Social Services was allocated $12.8m for food assistance and received contingency funds of $2.5m in April 2015 and $3.4m last week for a total of $18.7m for food assistance.
While the allocation for this new budget cycle will not change, Mrs Griffin said she was confident in savings from the impact of the implementation of the reloadable visa prepaid card and the inherent reassessments.
The department also gave other forms of assistance in New Providence for the period July 2014 - May 2015. These included rent assistance to 907 recipients for a total of $999,060. The department further spent $644,349 for 1,164 people to receive electricity assistance.
Water & Sewerage was another assistance category with 231 recipients. The government spent a total of $101,171 in this regard. For temporary shelter, 128 recipients were assisted and $92,954 spent.
Allowance to children with special needs had 223 recipients and foster care allowance was given to 182 people. The government spent $329,290 and $453,600 respectively in these areas.