Chief Executive Officer of Supreme Counselling for Personal Development, Shawn Clarke believes the Government and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) need to improve their collaboration to provide better counselling services to the youth.
He expressed that view as he endorsed comments made at last week’s crime prevention symposium by senior psychologist in the Student Support Unit of the Ministry of Education, Technological and Vocational Training, Juanita Brathwaite-Wharton that a detailed counselling intervention framework, supported by sound scientific data, was needed to assist deviant young people.
Clarke told Barbados TODAY that collaboration between government entities and NGOs is needed to make such a comprehensive framework a reality.
“I agree with the fact that we lack data in Barbados and in the Caribbean in general…. We have to make resources available to do research so that we would have information that represents the Caribbean, so to speak,” he said.
“The authorities also have to make the resources – whether financial or otherwise – available for these organisations, especially non-governmental organisations, to be able to carry out this work and to be able to get the data that is needed. There [also] needs to be a greater alliance between the Government and NGOs; there is no need for the Government to try to reinvent the wheel for things that are happening in the NGO world,” Clarke added.
The counsellor also responded to the recent disclosure by Minister of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs Kirk Humphrey that at least two cases of child abuse were reported in Barbados every day.
“Between 2019 to 2020, there were 611 reported cases of child abuse in Barbados; between 2020 and 2021, 544 reported cases of abuse; between 2021 and 2022, 667 cases reported of abuse,” he said as he gave a detailed overview of the new Child Protection Bill 2023 in the House of Assembly last week.
Though saying the figure would seem high for most Barbadians, Clarke contended that the real number was likely much larger.
He said children must be provided with a safe and comfortable environment to report abuse and get the help they need.
“We have to be able to convince our children to become more trusting of the guidance counsellors and school teachers and so on, [so] that they too can become more comfortable going to these persons and reporting if they are being abused, touched inappropriately; if the beatings they get are too severe,” Clarke said.
“I think we have to teach our children to be trusting enough to make those reports [and] when those reports are made to the authorities, they need then to do the due diligence and [follow up] the report. We have to start on the premise that all reports made by our children are true, and then investigate.”
Under the new Child Protection Bill 2023, it will be mandatory to report cases of abuse. This mandatory reporting will apply to parents; medical, health, dental or mental health practitioners or nurses; medical facility administrators; school principals or teachers; social workers; law enforcement officers; Internet providers and computer or telecommunications technicians; and any person providing care to a child. (SB)