Blue Fridays, a special feature in Child Abuse Prevention Month
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April 9, 2024

Blue Fridays, a special feature in Child Abuse Prevention Month

Minister of National Mobilisation, Social Development etc, Orando Brewster last Thursday April 4, 2024, revealed amendments for law breakers but more so with regard to sexual offences of minors.

The minister, who was speaking at the launch of Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness Month, said that according to data collected by the Child Development Department in 2023, some 241 reports were received of children being abused or neglected and this was “241 too many”.

Minister Brewster said approximately 206 children are in state protected care because of abuse and neglect.

“I don’t think it is right for any parent to over do it as you would say in common language, as it relates to how we discipline our children and how we address issues and situations that they are caught up with.”

Reminiscing on his upbringing, Brewster said “I remember my childhood very vividly…I remember the days when my mother would give me a good pair-I would not say- but it was never to the extent that I was traumatised from the memories of my childhood.”

Of the data, approximately 43% of reports were classified as victims of child neglect and abandonment, 37% were victims of sexual abuse, 17% were victims of physical abuse with 3% being psychologically abused victims.

The minister made it clear that his ministry wants to put a stop to child abuse, therefore, last Thursday April,4,2024, Members of Parliament met to debate amendments to legislation dealing with sexual offences, and illegal firearms.

“Perpetrators, they’re very smart, we had one [amendment] dealing with permitting girls under 15 to use premises for intercourse…so persons who are caught giving permission to use their premise for intercourse, we have increased the penalty in that aspect, and that would be moving from 14 years to 15 years.”

Brewster pointed out that when persons hear the word ‘premises’, “most of us would think of a house, but we know they are smart, so after I highlighted that, we made some amendments to premises to include vehicle, vessel, aircraft, or other conveyance, so we have to be very careful with our law and how we pass them”. The audience responded to the information with loud applause.

Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness Month will be held under the theme: ‘Don’t let abuse be your child’s story: Make a change. End child abuse’ and will feature a Blue Fridays campaign, where every Friday members of the public are encouraged to wear blue as a symbol of solidarity with victims of child abuse.

There are plans for foster care recruitment drives throughout the year, and a march and rally on Friday April, 26, 2024. The event will feature a torch run which commences in Union Island on Friday April, 19, 2024 and would end in St Vincent moving through the streets of Kingstown.

“We want every aspect of our society involved in this march and rally which will be culminating at Victoria Park on the 26th of April 2024,” the minister said.

He also shared that when schools re-open there will be a series Child Abuse Awareness campaigns targeting all schools in the nation as a way to educate students on the protection of children and child abuse.

Minister Brewster is hopeful that the month’s activities, along with the government’s long term plan to curb child abuse, would bear fruit and said Cabinet is looking forward to working with the New Democratic Party (NDP) on the issue.

“We have extended the invitation to the opposition as well to partner with us in these …activities and I hope that with the common goal, can do what they can do in order to raise the awareness as it relates to child abuse protection and prevention”.