“We could have saved this child”- Ann Greene
By Leroy Smith
Director of Children Services and head of the Child Care and Protection Agency (CC&PA), Ann Greene believes that 12-year-old Leonard Archibald would have still been alive today if residents had spoken out earlier about the predator who lived in the community.
Young Archibald went missing on September 17, after he left his Brothers Village, Berbice home to pick up two of his sisters from a birthday party in a nearby village. However, he never returned home and was last spotted riding a bicycle on the Sisters Village Public Road.
Two young men from the area, one of whom is known for molesting young boys, were arrested and on Friday, they confessed to the brutal crime. They have been identified as Hilary Edwards (the main suspect) and Nicolas Christopher. Edwards reportedly told detectives that he raped the child and dumped him in the river after he [Archibald] became unconscious.
As such, police found the young man’s bicycle in the Berbice river behind the house of the two accused. Archibald’s badly decomposed body was found on Sunday, September 23 at Korthberaadt River which is located about three miles from Brothers Village, East Bank Berbice.
“We (adults) could have saved this child,” Greene told the News Room during an interview at her office on Tuesday.
Ironically, Guyana is observing Child Protection Week under the Theme: Partnering with Families and Communities for Positive Outcomes for Children.”
As is evident, the incidents surrounding the abuse and death of Archibald smacks in the face of the very theme. Greene told the News Room that her staff deals with an issue of child abuse every hour and that makes her agency a secondary victim having to listen to the trauma that children have to face and go through at the hands of adults, teenagers or peers.
She said the recent incident in Berbice has been having a very negative impact on at least one of her employees.
“Fortunately or unfortunately, the people will now wake up, if you have predators in your communities, you have to get them out of those communities. There are more children out there needing our attention too,” Greene told the News Room.
Residents in the area heard screams coming from the house in which the child was raped but did not take it seriously. As such, Greene was adamant that had the community did something about the screams of the child, he could have been alive today.
She called on persons to identify persons who are known predators in their communities.
As a result of the brutal rape and murder, several other boys and men have come forward with their story of being molested and assaulted by the suspect, who confessed to the crime.
DO NOT SETTLE ABUSE CASES
Meanwhile, Greene told the News Room that anyone who accepts payment or payoff from someone who hurts a child is “worst” than the predators.
“Children matters cannot be settled at no level; none at all. It’s damaging to the child, if you value a few dollars and sell out your child’s innocence, they will never forget you, you damage their physics,” Greene contended.
Green said that there also instances where parents and other family members refuse to accept the fact that younger relatives are being abused. She said that they often battle with the reality of having to break off relationships with loved ones, so they opt to remain silent and turn a blind eye to the abuse.
Greene reminded that children are the future and if their present is not protected, then there will be no future. She cautioned the police that they have an obligation by law to immediately report to the Child Care and Protection Agency, any act of abuse against children.