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Child abuse cases increase by 87%

Minister of State Myles Laroda. 
Photo: Austin Fernander

Minister of State Myles Laroda. Photo: Austin Fernander

Officials say incidents a continuing trend following pandemic

By EARYEL BOWLEG

Tribune Staff Reporter

ebowleg@tribunemedia.net

REPORTS of child abuse soared 87 per cent in 2023 compared to 2022, a continuation of what officials say is an increase in child abuse following the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2022, there were 319 reports of child abuse related to physical abuse, sexual abuse, verbal abuse, emotional abuse, incest, neglect and abandonment. In 2023, there were 409 reports related to these categories.

Year-over-year, physical abuse reports increased by 55 per cent. Sexual abuse reports rose by 39 per cent.

There were 113 reports of physical abuse and 128 sexual abuse reports in 2023. There were zero reports of incest in 2022, but 13 reports in 2023. Reports of neglect declined from 141 to 137.

There were 40 reports of educational neglect in 2023, a category not tabulated in 2022, according to statistics the Department of Social Services provided The Tribune. Likewise, there were 21 reports of suicidal ideation in 2023.

The Ministry of Social Services launched Child Protection Month last week during a press conference.

Charlamae Fernander, acting director of Social Services, said about 150 children are in protective care throughout New Providence, Grand Bahama and Cat Island.

Minister Myles Laroda said officials seek suitable foster and adoptive parents for children in protective care who cannot be reunited with their biological parents.

Ms Fernander encouraged people to adopt older children as well, not just infants.

“I know that’s something that would raise some eyebrows,” she said.

“That’s a key time in their lives, when they are six, seven, eight, nine, ten, or pre-adolescent, adolescent, etc., to really turn the tide in this country and ensure that they become well-adjusted members of society.

“I want to encourage persons to reach out to them, as those children are as much in need of love and protection and support as any other child. So, I think we need maybe a little bit of a shift in perspective, and in focus, and consider these children’s needs to be placed also.”

Comments

bahamianson 2 months, 4 weeks ago

These abuses were going on before covid. Covid wasnt the causr of everything. My children had to do the same thing every other child had to do at home. They had to take classes online. My daughter graduated with a 3.76 from her high school. Parents, parents, parents, you have to be exactly that....Parents. T hat includes being responsible. The culture breeda anger and roughness. Children are taught to curse, fight , fuss and not solve conflicts correctly by their so called Parent. This one is a tough one.

John 2 months, 3 weeks ago

They did predict that crime, violent crime, rape, sexual abuse, violence and including domestic violence will all increase after Covid. Not just here in Thr BaHAMAS, but worldwide. And to see some of these videos with groups of people fighting each other. Like no restraint. They like they don’t care about the results of their actions. But when it comes to children. They are more vulnerable, less able to protect themselves and the abuse will probably haunt them for the rest of their lives. Especially children who are sexually abused or ones who have to be removed from homes with natural family and have to be placed in foster care. And this brutal economy is not helping where some parents take their frustrations out on children.

B_I_D___ 2 months, 3 weeks ago

All comes back to the parents, you reap what you sow, quite happy to kick out unfounded kids and hope the schooling system teaches them life morals…but when you are caged in with them 24/7 in lockdowns and restrictions, tempers flare…our Bahamas need a culture shift

rosiepi 2 months, 3 weeks ago

It would be laughable if it wasn’t so hypocritical for Commissioner Fernander to boast of “serious crime decreasing” but rape has increased in the same breath. Nor are these crime statistics taken into account and added to “serious crimes” but that wouldn’t allow him to proclaim his and this government’s latest fraud.

And what’s up with removing the number of statutory rapes from the number of rapes in NP?? Last year according to the RBPF there were 61 rapes and 134 cases of “unlawful intercourse”. That means there were at least 195 rapes, so surmising since half or more aren’t reported. That means that at least 134 children under the age of 16 were raped, double that of “rapes”

And since the reported stats in this article of child sexual abuse are not included by the RBPF, what pray tell is that number?

And there is little chance of adopting a child under care in the Bahamas, that permission must come from the families of these poor souls, the Aunties, Uncles and Grandparents. And they would rather have the state house them in one of the government’s ‘care homes’ where they receive none before they let it be known ‘officially’ they’ve refused to bring up their own or admit that their son is in jail or their daughter’s on drugs.

But they’ll be there in church on Sunday! Just without those who need their family so desperately.

John 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Rapes are up and there is a corresponding increase in STDS including AIDS and genital warts. People just ‘got loose’ before and after the pandemic. The brutal economy didn’t help as people be faced difficulties of keeping the lights on and keeping good on the table. Social food assistance is limited to a $50 voucher for most people. A few years ago this could put food on the table for a family for a meal or two, but inflation now consumes most of this.

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