The safety and well being of this country’s children is not a private matter; therefore it cannot be restricted to the home.
Addressing a special service held yesterday in observance of Child Month, the senior pastor of the Restoration Ministries Pastor David Durant also called for stronger child protection laws, saying while “I will be the first to agree that family privacy is important, the abuse of a child is not a private matter.
“Let’s break the silence. Every one of us can do something to reduce the incidence of child abuse in our community,” he said.
“I believe child protection systems need strengthening and changes in legislation and policies at a governmental level can assist in this fight as well as the promotion of positive social norms,” he added.
Durant, who is a Government Senator, also appealed to Barbadians to become activists for the cause of children.
“Let’s stop being spectators and sideline, armchair commentators. Let’s arise and break the silence and embark on a rigorous, well structured, and intelligently implemented campaign to save our nation’s children, one child at a time.”
He pointed out that children from all socio economic groups were victims of this “vicious cycle of brutality, selfishness, greed and neglect”.
“Even children with disabilities and those orphaned are not spared the insidious nefarious onslaught,” the Senator said.
“These acts of sexual abuse, exploitation and brutality, meted out to children are normally done by someone known to the child including parents, step parents, other family members, caretakers, teachers, employers and other children,” he pointed out, adding, “It’s a sad reality that only a small portion of these evil acts are reported and few if any, of the perpetrators are ever convicted.
“We are saying today these evil practices towards children must stop”.
Stressing the need for care for the young and defenceless, Durant made clear that his ideas were not influenced by last week’s tragic death of Shamar Weekes, but he noted the young man’s passing had affected the entire country.
In his address, Social Care Minister Steve Blackett also made reference to the tragedy, saying it was ironic that Weekes had lost his life to apparent suicide, during Child Month and despite the presence of several agencies focused on the delivery of child care.
“As Minister with responsibility for child care, I am saddened that all these systems apparently, and I say apparently, failed for little Shamar Weekes, and my heart bleeds for him,” he told the congregation.