A leading child rights advocate is suggesting that some of the parents involved in child abuse here suffer from mental health problems.
Earlier today, 22-year-old Latoya Morris of Block 1, 11G, Eden Lodge, St Michael pleaded guilty in the District ‘A’ Magistrates’ Court to cruelty to a child, despite telling the court she was only playing with the child.
Morris was captured on video seemingly force-feeding and kicking her then nine-month-old baby in the face.
Without directly addressing the Morris case, child rights advocate Shelly Ross told Barbados TODAY there were too many cases of child abuse here, of which mental illness plays a part.
“We aren’t taking mental health seriously. Barbadians can go to psychologists and get help with the problems,” Ross said.
“Every parent that abuses a child probably doesn’t do it intentionally. I don’t think parents set out to hurt their children. Most of them don’t. There are many things that can make parent abuse a child,” she added.
In one of the videos, which went viral on social media, the young mum is seen force-feeding the young infant while demanding the child “open you mout, girl”.
In another video she is seen seemingly kicking the child in the face and saying, “I hate you”, before being forced to stop by a male who could be heard appealing to her to stop kicking the child.
A third clip shows the child, who was unattended and dressed only in a nappy, creeping down a pathway leading away from the home, while a male, who was recording the video, yelled: “Look at this here, look. And she call she self a mother [and she is] in a house sitting down and she child through the door.”
It emerged in court today that the male was Rommel Codrington, the father of Morris’ two-year-old child, and at whose home in The Pine, St Michael the mother was recorded “kicking” the child in the face.
It also emerged that the two ended their relationship a month later, after which Morris posted a message on Facebook that caused Codrington to “feel bad about what was being said about him”.
After sending the video recordings to the baby’s grandfather, and not getting the desired response, Codrington posted the videos on the same social media site and it went viral.
While social media brought the incidents to the public’s attention, and subsequently caught the eye of law enforcement officials, Ross was critical of the method.
While clearly stating that she was not referring to the issue at hand, Ross told Barbados TODAY child abuse was a major problem in Barbadian households.
“Child abuse is bad in any form, anytime, anywhere. Abuse is any situation is something that we should take seriously. Child abuse is wrong and very worrying,” the activist said.
“I urge the public to report child abuse, but do it the right way, I don’t support putting these things on social media. If you know it’s child abuse I think you should report it to the Child Care Board or police, but don’t put it on social media.
“I do not like putting these things on social media. They are not for social media. Social media will not help. It gives people too much to talk about.”
Also commenting on the issue was head of the Barbados National Council of Parent-Teacher Associations Shone Gibbs who, like Ross, pointed to the need for child abuse to be addressed to protect the future of the country.
“I have repeatedly said that when we speak about violence with children I have to come back to the level of child abuse that exist in Barbados and the region. Statistics show that eight out of ten children suffer some sort of abuse. Child abuse is very prevalent and is something that needs to be addressed by authorities. Protection legislation must be something that is very vigorous in Barbados to protect those children from parents.”
Gibbs suggested that “persons who know they don’t want children, do the right thing and not get children. I think birth control is still very affordable and family planning would assist those who need it,” he said. firstname.lastname@example.org