While there were 481 cases of child abuse reported to the Ministry of Social Protection’s Childcare and Protection Agency (CPA) last year, a total of 134 have thus far been recorded for 2019.
Moreover, the CPA continues to work assiduously to prevent, reduce, and alleviate the effects of abuse and neglect of children. Recognising that the task, however, can only be accomplished through effective intervention and inter-agency collaboration, the CPA has begun meeting with stakeholders from the Guyana Police Force, probation officers, health and education sectors, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and other agencies to discuss ways to collaborate to better tackle child abuse.
CPA’s objective is to work and collaborate with other agencies such as the Guyana Police Force, judiciary, health and education sectors, probation, national and governmental departments, churches, youths and community groups and NGOs to protect children and stop child abuse. This year’s theme of ‘Every Child’s Life is worth preserving” sets the pace for the agency to protect children.
During a recent meeting with stakeholders at CPA, Director of CPA, Ann Greene emphasised the need for police officers to work faster and have perpetrators of child abuse charged within 72 hours. Greene stressed that some police stations move slowly on the charges resulting in perpetrators fleeing, the case or country.
“You must be proactive! All police stations should strive for cases to go before the court in 72 hours. Sexual abuse is a crime and the police can’t work out an arrangement with people at the police station. The issues cannot stop at the police station, if it happens there it is corruption. Police have to charge and there is a reluctance with the police sometimes to get persons charged,” Greene stressed.
Some police officers present at the meeting related that they experience difficulty with obtaining evidence during child abuse cases.
Greene responded that parents should be held accountable. She explained that the police can get a statement from the child and use it in the case. She advised that the statement can be taken in the presence of a probation officer.
Greene added that there is also a reluctance with probation officers to hasten child abuse cases. She reminded them that their first responsibility and duty is to the child. Therefore, they must do their best in child abuse cases to ensure that the child is free from the abuse and the perpetrator is locked away.
“The sympathy should be to the child. We will take a stand to hold parents accountable. Too many times these sinister acts go unreported which can cause a child to become self- destructive if the appropriate measures and counselling are not taken seriously. We also need the churches and youth groups, the education Sector, the health sector and the judiciary system to work together to put a stop to child abuse.”