Leading child advocate Faith Marshall-Harris is giving the Child Care Board (CCB) the thumbs up for admitting that it failed to thoroughly investigate allegations that the late Coleridge and Parry Secondary School student Shemar Weekes was being abused by his mother Julieann Weekes.
On Monday, Sherry-Ann Blackman, the child care officer assigned to investigate the reports, and board director Joan Crawford confessed before the ongoing coroner’s inquest into the 12-year-old boy’s death last year, that the state-run child protection agency had not followed through with its initial probe and the case “fell through the cracks”.
Crawford also informed the inquest that corrective measures had been put in place to better respond to complaints of child abuse.
Today, Marshall-Harris told Barbados TODAY that what the CCB had done was “very encouraging” to other children in abusive situations. “Their actions might very well produce some help for them. I personally know of other children who are in problems,” said the former juvenile court magistrate and UNICEF child champion.
She congratulated presiding Coroner Manila Renee for “doing a very thorough job, and I am very pleased with that. She is following the best traditions . . . [and] she is doing a very thorough investigation.”
Shemar Weekes was found hanging at his Fryers Well, Checker Hall, St Lucy home on May 14, 2015, two years after his great-aunt Clarista Daniel had made the first report to the Child Care Board that his mother was allegedly beating him.