Reported child abuse cases saw a decrease in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is due to the closure of schools for almost a year to prevent the spread of the virus since teachers are the ones that most often spot and report abuse. According to data released by the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security, a total of 3, 129 child abuse cases were reported last year. This represents a 16.6% decrease in reported cases when compared to 2019.
A total of 3,752 child abuse cases were reported in 2019, with 1,729 of those cases being child neglect and 890 being cases of sexual abuse.
However, Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Dr Vindhya Persaud in a statement revealed that last year’s number is unsettling.
“I am horrified….We are all well aware of the recent instances where children who were killed, killed in their homes, and by a parent or a person who was in charge of their safety. This is deeply disturbing to me. And I’m sure every one of you is as concerned as I am about the well-being and welfare of our children,” the Minister said.
The data was compiled by the Childcare and Protection Agency (CPA) and also revealed that 41 percent of girls between the ages of 14 and 18 were sexually abused at home.
Analyses indicate that many of the victims were violated and abused by persons brought into the homes, especially by their mothers.
Troubled by this revelation, Minister Persaud made an impassioned plea to these mothers, who may be driven by economic hardship and financial opportunism, to “be very careful of the persons that you let into your homes.”
“You are exposing your children to the unknown, and you’re placing your children sometimes in harm’s way. Be very conscious of your child’s whereabouts and with whom you leave your child with,” the Minister appealed.
Additionally, the reluctance of parents to believe, dismiss or fail to act when a child tells them about any instances of abuse, is of great concern.
“Take it seriously. We owe it to our children, to develop a culture in our homes, where you’re open to listening to what they have to say about their well-being, and more importantly, about their own concerns for their safety,” the Minister said.
Between January and December 2020 – 3,129 children between ages one to 18 were either abused physically, sexually, verbally; neglected, abandoned or witnessed abuse. Of the 3,129 cases, 1,698 were girls.
The worrisome figures revealed 688 girls between the ages of 14 and 18 were sexually abused. Overall, 632 girls were neglected; 258 were physically abused; 104 experienced verbal abuse; 12 witnessed abuse and 4 were abandoned.
Meanwhile, neglect was the most common type of abuse among the boys, and out of the 751 cases reported – 674 were neglected between the ages of 0-13. And while 1,431 boys were abused in total – 432 of them were physically abused; 127 abused sexually; 102 verbally abused; 10 abandoned and 4 witnessed some sort of abuse.
Alarmingly, 42 percent of the 2,822 perpetrators who committed these heinous acts were mothers. The records showed that many of them physically abused their children. CPA records also revealed that 596 fathers and 172 grandparents abused children.
The children’s welfare is paramount to the Ministry, and through the CPA 1,638 of the victims received short to long term counseling; 592 cases were handled by law enforcement officers; 62 cases were placed before the Courts and 92 victims were removed from their parents’/guardians home and placed either in institutional care or with other relatives. (Extracted and modified from the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security)