110 boys aged 3 or younger abused in 2021
-total of 404 boys reportedly abused for the year so far
For the first quarter of 2021, the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security has found that 110 young boys, aged three years old or less, were abused while an overall total of 404 boys were reportedly abused.
In observance of the International Day of the Boy Child, observed on May 16, annually, the Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Dr. Vindhya Persaud, called on Guyanese to pay attention to the vulnerability of boys and young men.
“I’m sure you’ll agree with me that the tendency has been to pay more attention to the girls and protect them, while we show less consideration to the boys. While it is true that more girls are abused, sexually and otherwise, let’s not be deceived into thinking that the same thing doesn’t happen to boys,” she lamented in a press statement.
Providing statistics tabulated by her ministry, the minister highlighted that in the first quarter of 2021 (the months of January, February and March), it was found that 635 girls were abused. During that same period, 404 boys were also abused.
“The types of abuse reported include physical, sexual, verbal, neglect, and abandonment,” she related.
Specifically on the abuse recorded in boys, she said 110 young boys between the age of zero to three years old faced some form of abuse. Additionally, 95 boys between the ages of four to seven were abused; 147 boys between the ages of eight to 13 were abused; and, 52 boys between the ages of 14 to 18 faced some form of abuse.
Cognisant of the prevalence of child abuse, the minister said that systems are being instituted to cater for both boys and girls. Additionally, she highlighted that the Ministry’s Child Care and Protection Agency, headed by Ann Greene, has been working to promote more awareness of the issue.
“It’s true that our boys are hurting and they need us. While they are also groomed for sexual abuse, we don’t get them to talk easily about it,” she underscored.
In December, in another section of the local media, it was reported that a 113 boys were sexually assaulted for the period January 2020 to October 2020, according to statistics compiled and presented by the Child Care and Protection Agency.
These figures indicated that boys between the ages of eight and 13 are most susceptible to sexual abuse, with 44 of them in that age group being made victims already for the year. It is important to note that in the figures provided by the Human Services Minister in her press statement, the largest number of abused boys (147 boys) were in the eight to 13 age group.
For the entire 2020, a total of 1,431 boys were abused. Of that number, 432 boys were faced with some form of physical abuse, 127 faced sexual abuse, 102 faced verbal abuse, 751 were found to be neglected, 10 were abandoned, while nine witnessed abuse.
Due to the scourge of child abuse, Dr. Persaud called upon parents to pay attention to their boy children, their education and the messages boys receive about respecting females and using dialogue to resolve conflict.
“It is also equally important for boys to be exposed to both positive male and female role models in their foundation years. Many boys have had to shoulder responsibilities very early in single-parent homes in the absence of fathers and this impact on their later relationships and choices,” she underscored.
Already, the ministry has launched a virtual safe space for men to be candid about issues affecting them.
Beyond those considerations, she also reminded Guyanese that less boys are pursuing tertiary level education as compared to girls and that this has created a shift in the workforce.
“The point is while we will be working consistently to empower girls through the Ministry, boys will benefit also from access to developmental opportunities and engagement as we recognize that they must be engaged early to counter escalating issues of domestic violence, crime, substance abuse, and unhealthy self-perceptions and coping mechanisms,” she said.
She also encouraged parents to pay attention to their sons and ensure that they receive positive messages on self-awareness, relationships and conflict resolution. These, she said, will encourage ambition and health development goals.
In a 2016 study of “Social Norms in Guyana as it pertains to Sexual, Physical and Emotional Violence against Children”, conducted by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), it was found that physical abuse is generally viewed as an accepted way of management and controlling children of children in households throughout Guyana and that child neglect is commonplace in Guyana.
It was also found that many people surveyed believed that grooming contributes to sexual violence against children in Guyana, and feel that it should not be tolerated even though it may be acceptable in some communities, particularly the poorer, more economically depressed communities.
In her press statement, the Minister assured Guyanese that the Human Services Ministry cares deeply about these issues and stands ready to help the best way they can.