Nearly 2,000 child abuse reports up to June; new plan to tackle abuse coming

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There have been 1,918 reported cases of child abuse during the first six months of this year, and as part of efforts to tackle the scourge of abuse against children, the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security will soon rollout a three-year programme.

This is according to the Minister of Human Services and Social Security Dr. Vindhya Persaud in an address issued for Child Protection Week 2021.

At the end of 2020, there were a total of 3,129 reported cases of child abuse- 1,698 of the reports were about girls, while 1,431 were for boys. Importantly, too, of those numbers 127 boys and 688 girls were sexually abused.

While providing this year’s figures in her address, Dr. Persaud stated that the reported cases of child abuse “continue to escalate”.

Importantly, she said that the new 914 hotline has led to some increase in the reporting of child abuse. Still, she lamented that many of the cases of child abuse remain unreported, thereby allowing predators and perpetrators to access vulnerable children.

Dr. Persaud also highlighted: “The increased and necessary usage of the internet during the pandemic opens newer avenues for abuse, as does the hiatus from school as many children may be in closer proximity to their abusers.”

As such, she underscored that collaborative efforts are needed to help keep children safe and, more public awareness of the signs of abuse coupled with increased education for children on their rights are important.

Beyond raising awareness, however, she emphasised that access to avenues of safety and protection are crucial. To this end, she acknowledged that institutions must be strengthened.

And, she reminded that the ministry has moved to ensure that law enforcement officers undergo intense training- through the Child Protection Agency (CPA)- to provide necessary support to children and families.

“While interventions may require children to be (moved) to protective custody of the State, every effort is made to reintegrate and remove children from institutions as early as possible to loving and safe homes,” she said too.

All that aside, Dr. Persaud highlighted that more work will be done to create safe environments for children.

As such, as the ministry observes Child Protection Week this week, an “impactful” three-year programme and strategic policies will be rolled out.

This, the minister said, will centre around public awareness, parenting, daily relationships and community involvement as well as age appropriate education on child abuse matters for children and adolescents.

Importantly, these activities will involve parents, children and members of various communities as well as multimedia messages featuring children of Guyana.

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