Child neglect cases tied to sexual abuse
Acting Corporal, Romaica Jordan
Front Page
May 7, 2024

Child neglect cases tied to sexual abuse

An officer within the Sexual Offences Unit of the Royal St Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force (RSVGPF), has expressed concern about a worrying trend where cases of child neglect and abandonment are leading to child sexual abuse.

The month of April is recognized as Child Abuse Prevention Month with stakeholders from various Ministries hosting activities and discussions centred on raising awareness of child abuse in St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG).

At a recent panel discussion, officials in the Child Protection Division revealed that a high number of reported cases of child abuse were recorded last year- 241 in total. Of that number, neglect and abandonment accounted for the majority of the cases, just over 100 cases, while sexual abuse made up 89 percent of the reported cases.

Speaking on SVGTV’s Viewpoint programme on Sunday May 5, 2024, acting Corporal, Romancia Jordon who is attached to the Sexual Offences Unit, said the Unit is seeing a direct link between neglect and child sexual abuse.

“Some of the cases that come to the Sexual Offences Unit are as a result of that same abandonment and neglect. Because of the neglect and the abandonment, children will go to their neighbour’s house or go to strangers for things that are not provided in the home, and that will lead to sexual abuse. From our standpoint, yes [the Ministry of] Mobilization is dealing with the abandonment and the neglect, but ultimately- it will lead to sexual abuse.”

Over the first four months of 2024, the courts of SVG have dealt with sexual assault cases involving minors, including rape, statutory rape, and attempted buggery.

Corporal Jordon said the biggest obstacle facing the Unit currently as they try to bring perpetrators of child sexual abuse to justice, is the lack of cooperation of persons called on to assist with investigations.

“When we are doing our investigations, there are a few that although they know they are supposed to speak about what is happening…they refuse to give us a statement. They refuse to provide that valuable information to aid in our investigation. There are some people who are just stubborn and resistant to doing such. They would rather say they don’t know, because they do no want to go to court.”

The acting Corporal also highlighted another trend which continues to perpetuate cycles of abuse in SVG where parents, due to their limited socio-economic circumstances, would choose not to report abuse to the authorities in order to maintain a stream of income.

“They are fearful of the father going to prison because the income will no longer be there. They rather associate themselves with the man instead of the child.”