600 child sexual abuse cases between 2015 and 2018
NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Amid a series of abductions and other violent incidents involving children, Minister of Social Services and Urban Development Frankie Campbell said yesterday that there is a dire need for parents in The Bahamas to pay more attention to their children and instill in them early a sense of right and wrong.
“Let us be the ones to tell them these are the do’s and the don’ts,” Campbell said during a press conference to announce April will be recognized as Child Protection Month
“The feelings and the thoughts you are having are natural, but this is the way that you deal with it and address them so that you do not get in trouble.”
The minister’s comments come on the heels of a fatal stabbing on Perry Rolle, a 15-year-old student of T.A. Thompson Junior High School, who died in hospital Monday after he was stabbed on his walk home on Pitt Road.
A 16-year-old and 15-year-old was taken into custody in connection with the murder.
In his keynote address, Campbell said parents and guardians must not ignore particular signs demonstrated by their children.
“Let’s not bury our heads in the sand and say he or she is 13 or 14, and he or she [is] not thinking about the things I was thinking about at 13 or 14,” he said.
“That’s a lie. They were thinking about it since they were 11 or 12.”
Recently released statistics revealed that from 2015 to 2018 there were 562 reported physical child abuse cases, 600 sexual abuse cases, 30 verbal abuse cases, 31 emotional abuse cases, 96 cases of incest, 1,070 cases of neglect, and 53 cases of abandonment.
According to Campbell, this is only a fraction of child abuse cases that occur in the country.
He noted that many incidents involving the abuse of children go unreported.
“Sadly, child protection is not given the priority by the community that it deserves, and too often it is minimized,” he said.
“Children are treated as if they don’t have a voice, thoughts or emotions.
“But a child is a person, worthy of love and respect, and should be treated as such.”
The minister also said the parents and guardians are responsible for the development of a child into a well-balanced adult, and if a child is abused “this balance is not achieved”.
Insisting that all forms of child abuse should be taken seriously, Campbell said no one should downplay the impact emotional and verbal abuse can have on a child.
He said the reporting of these forms of abuse tend to have the lowest numbers.
“In my humble opinion, and bringing to bear my personal experience, these may actually be the highest in occurrence and these are probably the ones that have the worst and longest lasting effect,” Campbell said.
“I stand here before you with memories of having been belittled.
“The sad part is this would have come from persons who had a responsibility of care, trust; professional people; trained people; people who would have been paid to look after our children.”