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Editorial: The Right Move To Protect Children – But Don’T Stop Now

WHEN a video circulated on social media showing staff beating children in a children’s home, there was understandable anger.

In this column, we argued that it was not enough to deal with this one incident in isolation – but rather that our nation had to deal with the circumstances that allowed it to happen in the first place.

To that end, we would applaud Minister of Social Services Frankie Campbell for the swift action that has followed. First, members of staff were relieved of their duties – and now comes the move that will hopefully prevent such an incident from happening again.

Corporal punishment is to be eliminated in all children’s homes. The National Child Protection Council has recommended that the practice be ceased immediately – but even without that, the reaction to the video has surely played a part in ensuring this practice is stamped out.

An end to corporal punishment is not the only measure – with other improvements to care home regimes being brought in, such as extra training, regular visits by officials and so on. The children involved in the incident itself are also receiving counselling.

These are all welcome measures – and perhaps it is not the end of changes yet.

Minister of Education Jeff Lloyd said previously that officials are having a “vigorous conversation” about whether corporal punishment should still be allowed in schools, and we would urge officials to see that discussion through. Don’t let this be the end of the matter.

If corporal punishment is deemed unacceptable in children’s homes, then why should it be any different in schools?

Indeed – shouldn’t we go one step further? The place children are most likely to face violence from adults isn’t in children’s homes, it isn’t in schools – it’s in their own homes.

Should we not be doing all we can to remove that risk – so that brutal beatings of the type seen in the video from the children’s homes are not being replicated inside private homes across the country?

For too long, we have resisted legislating to protect people inside a home – from the debate over marital rape to failing to protect children being beaten by adults.

Let’s take the violence out of childhood, as much as we are able. Let’s even look at amending the law as necessary to give children the protection they need – the protection they deserve.

When we send our children off to school, we shouldn’t have to worry about them being assaulted in the classroom by staff. It’s time to put such days behind us.

This has been an excellent start. Let’s see it through.

Economic danger

Time and again in this column, we have highlighted the signs indicating the depth of the economic difficulty we face.

Sometimes those are bigger signs – such as the lengthy lines at food giveaways as people desperate to get through the week seek help.

Sometimes they are smaller signs – such as the report in today’s Tribune showing the increase in people allowing their health and life insurance policies to lapse.

It’s a simple equation – when you’ve only got so much money to go around, you can’t pay for everything, and some families are choosing to stop paying for the rainy day in the future when they find themselves standing in a storm right now.

Some are using the money to pay for a roof over their head. Some are using it to buy food. Some don’t even have the money to do that.

The scale of it is disturbing. Sandy Morley, of the Bahamas Insurance Association, said that by comparison to the economic crash of 2008, “we did see some level of lapses but not to the extent we’re seeing today”.

This is less of an issue of the insurance companies themselves – as Mr Morley notes, the industry will survive though profits will take a hit. This is a sign of the depths from which our economy itself will have to recover.

We’ve said it before – there’s a long road ahead, and this continues to affect people who might have been thriving otherwise. Helping our neighbour has never been more important.

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