The Child Care Board (CCB) is reporting breakthroughs in a number of cases being investigated by the state agency.
However, Chairman Kenneth Knight would not disclose which cases had been fully resolved or how close the CCB was to concluding others.
“It is substantial progress. There is not only one case, there are several cases that the Child Care Board is confronted with and we have a team of child care officers who are fully committed in terms of protecting the rights of children,” Knight told Barbados TODAY on the fringes of a special children’s concert at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre today to mark Universal Children’s Day 2017.
“I am very encouraged, particularly over the last couple of years, with the amount of progress that we have made in resolving some of the issues affecting children in this country. But as you can appreciate it is a continuing task because every day we get varying reports of particularly children being abused and we have to intercede because that is our regulatory role.”
Knight said like other statutory boards, the child protection agency, which was established to investigate reports of child abuse and neglect, was being asked to function with diminishing financial resources.
However, he said this would not stop CCB from adequately carrying out its duties, and it had found “other innovative ways to compensate for the reduction of financial resources”.
Barbadians have been thrown into consternation from time to time as news surfaced of cases of alleged child abuse and the deaths of minors under questionable circumstances.
The most recent one was the death of one-month-old Kaiden Dacosta Greenidge in September. The infant was pronounced dead on arrival at the state-run Queen Elizabeth Hospital after the parents were summoned by Divine Day Nursery & Pre-School, where they had left the child.
Some of the most prominent cases in the last two years included the alleged suicide of 12-year-old Shemar Weekes, of Fryers Well, Checker Hall, St Lucy, and the death of six-year-old Jahan King of Belfield, Jackson, St Michael, which occurred weeks apart. Jahan’s mother and her boyfriend were subsequently charged with manslaughter.
The most recent available statistics from the CCB showed that between April 1, 2014 and March 31, 2015, there were 864 reported cases of abuse involving 1,173 children, figures officials said were only a fraction of the true number of child abuse cases since many went unreported.
Knight today did not have up-to-date numbers, but told Barbados TODAY there continued to be a range of child abuse cases being reported to the CCB, with the most common being sexual abuse.
“It is all different types of abuse. It could be sexual, verbal, withholding of children from going to school. It is a variety of child abuse [cases]. It entails many different forms, but the most common form is that of sexual abuse, then we have battery of course. And one of the things we see in recent times is children not going to school and that is a serious thing,” Knight said.
Asked about the extent of the CCB’s involvement in the investigation of crimes involving children, Knight said the agency would work closely with the Royal Barbados Police Force to tackle those issues.
As Barbados joined more than 130 countries in observance of Universal Children’s Day 2017, Knight said he was satisfied that local laws were adequate to provide protection for children.
“I think the basic framework that has been established in this country is adequate for the protection of children. What we have to do is sensitize the public in terms of the rights of children. That is the most important thing. We are signatories to that convention on the rights of the child.
“I am very happy to say we have made significant progress in implementing some of the conditions under which we signed up for as it relates to the convention of the rights of children,” he added.