St Lucia – Ministry of Health & UNICEF to address child abuse

The Ministry of Health and UNICEF collaborate on a regional strategy for the prevention of violence against children.
The Ministry of Health, Wellness, Human Services and Gender Relations, through the Division of Human Services, is hosting a three-day working session to develop a CARICOM regional strategy for the prevention of violence against children.
The workshop, a follow up to a 2012 United Nations study on violence against children, will also review the progress made by Caribbean countries on the implementation of the recommendations of the UN study.
“At the Caribbean consultation, representatives from CARICOM member states adopted the Kingston declaration that called for monitoring the implementation of the study’s recommendations, and ensuring that the prevention and elimination of all forms of violence against children is a priority at CARICOM’s deliberations on children,” Heather Stewart, Child Protection Officer for UNICEF Eastern Caribbean, said. “Thereafter UNICEF made a commitment to CARICOM to support the development of a strategy on the prevention and elimination of all forms of violence against children. This workshop starts the formal process of the development at that strategy.”
A “Break the Silence” campaign was launched in Saint Lucia in 2013 spearheaded by the Division of Human Services, with the aim of generating greater public awareness and attention to the issues of child abuse and violence against children. The campaign focused on encouraging members of the public to speak out against all forms of child abuse.
Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Elda Michel, said that a major concern is the sexual abuse of females between the ages of 12 – 15 years.

“The problem is exacerbated by the fact that often times the mothers of these children do not believe that their children are telling the truth about their partners in the home. The girls are left to continue the agony of abuse because they fear their mother’s disbelief or even reprisal,” Michel stated.
Program Manager for Human Resource Development at the CARICOM Secretariat, Dr. Morella Joseph, said the Caribbean is adversely affected by various forms of violence which occur in different settings.
“Protecting children from abuse and violence should be a key priority because these issues have a devastating impact on children and have serious psychological, developmental, and socio-economic implications,” she said. “Conversely, successful protective actions increase children’s chances to grow up physically and mentally healthy, confident and self-respecting and less likely to abuse and exploit others.”
The workshop opened Tuesday, at the Palm Haven Hotel and included participants from the British Virgin Islands as well as Suriname. Source (GIS)

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