Former Attorney General Dale Marshall has slammed Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and his administration for “failing” children who are suffering from abuse.
The Member of Parliament for St Joseph also accused child protection agencies, particularly the Child Care Board and the police, for not acting swiftly enough when they receive reports of abuse.
In fact, an outspoken Marshall suggested that sometimes burglary was treated with more urgency.
At a political meeting on Sunday, Stuart assured Barbadians that Government intended to confront the worrying problem of child abuse “head-on” and would no longer allow the situation to continue.
Stuart also said that following a lengthy discussion on the issue during last Thursday’s Cabinet meeting, Minister of Social Care Steve Blackett was expected to return to this Thursday’s meeting with additional information that was requested.
However, Marshall contended that the Prime Minister was much too slow to act.
“I am happy that the Prime Minister has spoken out about it, but the truth is, it is a case where he has spoken out in my view much too late. . .
“I don’t know what he [Blackett] is going to get back to Cabinet and tell them. It is an ever-present issue that needs to be dealt with swiftly. It requires law enforcement, it requires the action of the Child Care Board,” he said.
Marshall suggested that any society that does not grapple with child abuse is one that is failing, stressing that the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) was “tremendously concerned” about the frequency of child abuse reports and the deaths of alleged victims.
He reminded Government that it had a duty to create an environment where children are protected and to activate laws already in place to protect them.
“The damage that is done to these children is something that is done swiftly. They have to investigate quickly. They have to put steps in place to ensure if necessary that children are removed from those environments.
“And they also have to ensure that those adults receive both punishment and treatment. Individuals can’t do this, that is the responsibility of the Government.”
Marshall stated that it appeared child abuse cases were only taken seriously by the authorities when they are highlighted in the press, which he lauded for its recent effort in bringing the matter to the public’s attention.
“I think that it is the heightened sense of awareness that Barbadians now have about this issue that will really galvanize Barbadians to pay more attention to what is happening in our society and in our homes and try to call in authorities,” Marshall said. (AH)