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Youth Activist Hits Out At Minister Over Rise In Child Abuse Cases

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Minister of Social Services Melanie Griffin

By AVA TURNQUEST

Tribune Chief Reporter

aturnquest@tribunemedia.net

OUTSPOKEN youth activist Tavarrie Smith yesterday accused Minister of Social Services Melanie Griffin of dereliction of duty in light of the 22 per cent increase in child abuse cases.

Mr Smith, a juvenile defence lawyer, called for the release of more detailed statistics that would assist the creation of evidence-based intervention and treatment programmes.

He also questioned whether or not the stalled enactment of the amendments to the Child Protection Act, better known as Marco’s Law, could have had an impact on last year's figures.

"I'm extremely concerned about the statistics," he said, "it's such a significant increase. What is also challenging in all of this is we don't know which cases are reoccurring. We have no context for the cases being reported, further to that is we don't know anything about what happened to the cases from last year."

He said: "There was no information on how many cases led to arrests or prosecutions, how many children placed in the foster care system. We don't know if these are from parents, guardians, persons in the community.

"We don't know whether these cases of abuse are from persons who would have been on a sexual registry list, maybe with that knowledge parents or guardians would have been more discerning about the people they allow to interact with their children."

In 2014, there were 597 reported cases of child abuse, according to statistics released by Mrs Griffin during her 2015/2016 budget contribution earlier this week.

Of that total, 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, six cases of incest, five cases of verbal abuse, two cases of abandonment, and nine cases of emotional abuse.

Mr Smith said the results were particularly alarming because he has noticed a correlation between juvenile offenders and child abuse. In the court system, he said a number of youth offenders were former victims of child abuse that never received treatment.

Mr Smith pointed to the disjointed system for child abuse victims, whom he said were forced to recount their horrors repeatedly during assessment at various agencies. He called for the establishment of a national child advocacy centre that would streamline support services.

"The minister is derelict in her duties," he said. "I'm really concerned about that the number is so significant.

"We can't ignore it a 22 per cent increase, it cries for attention. It is not enough to release statistics without any followup. What is coming? We don't even know if these are cases from New Providence or what percentage is from the Family Islands.

Mr Smith added: "Give us more data so those of us out in the field working, we know how to respond, and where our resources need to go. We don't know what that means or how to respond as a society other than being alarmed."

Comments

SP 3 years, 4 months ago

................................. Unemployment Linked With Child Maltreatment ........................

OUTSPOKEN youth activist Tavarrie Smith is without question on the right path. Innocent children are suffering while the PLP play "catch me if you can".

Minister of Social Services Melanie Griffin is totally disingenuous in her failed attempt to mislead the "Ignorant" among us lacking the common sense to connect the dots between rising unemployment and child abuse.

Minister Melanie Griffin is playing politics to distance her PLP parties dismal failure in creating jobs and stimulating the economy to the alarming 22 per cent increase in child abuse.

The unemployed and or underemployed channel their frustrations onto their children.

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2010-10/aaop-ulw092710.php

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duppyVAT 3 years, 4 months ago

Yep ............. Griffin is disingenuous just like the rest of the front bench ........ she sits there quiet while Perry, BJ and Brave sit on the gender equality referendum ............. and not a word

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birdiestrachan 3 years, 4 months ago

Ms Griffin is doing her best. but she can not be responsible for children being abused. it is for the parents and persons who are in contact with these children to love and respect the children. blaming the PLP for this is going beyond the pale. I trust you all know better than that. but then again you all may not. You may as well blame the man who is complaining in this article or you or I,..

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GrassRoot 3 years, 4 months ago

You are absolutely right that she can not be responsible for children being abused. However she is in charge to make sure no or at least less children are being abused. that's one of the items why she goes to work every day and gets paid by our VAT dollars. No one is blaming the PLP, we are blaming the Government. Child abuse is not a God given sin, it is something that can be reduced or avoided through active policy by supporting the parents, weeding out the criminals, informing the kids about what's right and wrong and empowering it. You just drag the issue into the bipartisan discussion and try to make it disappear. You help the PLP to cover up its obligation as the Governing party - pretty sad.

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