Chairperson of the SAVE Foundation of Barbados Barbara Daniel-Goddard has warned that children as young as 14 years were involved in abusive relationships.
And she has made a case for schools to educate children on the dangers of domestic violence.
“The reason for [going into schools] is the teachers are aware of young girls and boys ages 14, 15 and 16 who are having conflict relationships. The boys are slapping around the girls … they are controlling their phones, they are controlling what they are wearing, telling them what they should and should not do,” she said.
Daniel-Goddard was speaking to the media on the sidelines of Action Experience, an event to raise awareness about domestic violence held in Independence Square last evening.
While she acknowledged that domestic abuse cases were prevalent among citizens ages 19-45, Daniel-Goddard proposed that a programme should be implemented in the school curriculum or as an after school activity to help counter the trend.
Speaking at the anti-violence event themed Speak Out, Reach Out was Minister of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs Cynthia Forde.
After expressing her disappointment with the relatively poor turnout at Independence Square, Forde called on the public to protect children and to educate them on the dangers of violence.
“Once we start with our little children in the incubator of life, I am sure that it will permeate the rest of society and help to eliminate some of the anger and the bitterness that we see coming through from our various households and institutions,” said Forde.
“We need to protect our men, our women and most importantly our children, for when our children witness the violence in our households, the cursing and the fighting…it sends negative messages to our children who are like sponges and will take in what they see,” she added.
The SAVE Foundation chairperson also stressed that targeting adults must be first stop in educating children.
“The challenge I feel is not so much the children . . . the challenge is actually the parents.
Our biggest challenge is being able to connect to the parents, to get the changes made so that they can pass on those changes to their children,” Daniel-Goddard said.
She further expressed concern that most women ages 20 to 45 who were in violent relationships came from homes that were challenging or were victims of rapes.
“In many ways it has set them on a path of not being able to make the best decisions,” the chairman commented.
Daniel-Goddard stressed that her foundation would like to have advocates out in the communities spreading their knowledge and offering assistance to victims.
“ We want to have education, we want to hold workshops re-educating and educating the public on domestic violence and we would like to get to the point where our course is an accredited course but we would like to get to the point where we can train persons so they will then go into their different neighbourhoods and facilitate it, she stated.