Child abuse a symptom of other problems
As long as we fail to recognise the protection of children is not an isolated issue—one that is connected to other issues such as public safety—we will not make any meaningful headway in curbing violence against children.
Chairperson of the Child Protection Task Force Diana Mahabir-Wyatt has noted 38 children were murdered in the last four years. On a daily basis there are countless other incidents of brutality, emotional abuse and other situations that place the physical and mental well-being of children at risk.
The majority of these incidents occur inside the homes and in and around the schools. Sometimes poor supervision is a contributing factor.
Violence in schools is rampant, as there is insufficient supervision of pupils. Bullying and fights continue unabated outside of schools on evenings. There are no police patrols. There are issues with the curriculum, teacher attendance and staffing at schools.
The Social Welfare Department is severely under-resourced so that the department cannot play the role it ought to in detecting and preventing situations that can bring harm to children and to rescue children from dangerous situations. And there are other factors.
Most of these factors are linked to general issues of public safety and an efficient and effective governance system.
For example, a Police Service and justice system that can efficiently respond to crime can snag and treat with issues such as sexual predators inside and outside of the home, bullying and violence outside the school gates, ensuring children to not linger about and fall into bad company and harmful situations, but that they go straight home.
If the Social Welfare Department had enough social workers they would be able to visit homes and detect cases of abuse and neglect.
Child abuse and neglect is a symptom of the wider problems facing our society—not that it does not require some special attention. It is a symptom and a product of other problems that pervade our society and until we begin to address those other problems in a meaningful way we will not make any meaningful progress with child protection.
Alderman Sunil Ramjitsingh