#Bahamas, April 14, 2018 – Nassau – As the Minister of Social Services and Urban Development the Hon. Lanisha Rolle formally launched Child Protection Month, she sounded an appeal to the public to report cases of child abuse.
“Our social workers however, cannot advocate alone. They need the help of our communities. Isolation in silos will not advance children’s protection but a unified [effort] will,” she said. “The job of protection of our children is all of ours to perform. We need everyone who lives and works around children in any capacity as parents, grandparents, neighbors, health care professionals, lunch vendors, passersby on the streets to all join in the fight to protect our children.”
Minister Rolle reminded the nation that because there are too many instances and variables of child abuse all citizens have a duty to advocate for the life and love of every child. “If you see it say it, if you hear it, tell it,” she said.
The Ministry launched the activities during a press conference at the Baillou Hill Road headquarters, Thursday, April 12 2018. Parliamentary Secretary Vaughn Miller; Sherilee Smith, Permanent Secretary; Lillian Quant-Forbes, Acting Director; other government officials; Child Protection National Council representatives including Bishop Arnold Josey and Dr. Novia Carter were among those present.
Child Protection Month is being observed on the theme “We Care. We Share: Prevent Child Abuse” which is based on challenges affecting the social development of children including child abuse, child neglect, child abandonment, child molestation and incest.
Minister Rolle shared the following statistics of reported suspected cases of child abuse matters investigated by the Child Protection Unit: 2015 – 520; 2016 – 560; 2017 – 460 (still under investigation).
“These numbers represent reported cases of physical, sexual and emotional abuse as well as neglect, incest and abandonment. They also represent the children who have had the Department of Social Services intervene on their behalf because of a caring teacher, an enquiring neighbour, a concerned uncle, trained church members or an alert shopkeeper who took the time, picked up the phone and called Social Services or called the Police to report the abuse,” said Minister Rolle.
She said the Ministry’s Children and Family Services, School Welfare Division and Child Care Facilities, together with the appointed Child Protection Council led by Bishop Arnold Josey, and neighborhood Urban Renewal Centres and Social Services Community Centres, work together year round to address matters that affect children, provide child care services and coordinate initiatives designed to foster their growth and healthy development.
“The Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development stands ready, willing and able to work with all partners and stakeholders to establish and reinforce programs and provide services and to parents and guardians to ensure the healthy social development of our children so that no child is left behind,” she stated.
To ensure protection of children the Ministry of Social Services manages the government’s adoption and foster care programs. The Ministry also provides 24-hour care for children placed in the Bilney Lane Children’s Home, Children’ Emergency Hostel, Elizabeth Estates Children’s Home, Nazareth Center, Ranfurly Home, Grand Bahama Children’s Home, Simpson Penn School for Boys, Willimae Pratt Centre for Girls.
During the Press Conference the Minister received a blue pinwheel courtesy of the Child Protection Council, which symbolizes the fight against child abuse. Among the month’s activities, which are extended to the Family Islands, is an exhibition, poetry competition for school students, a town meeting and two church services.
Bishop Josey announced that all churches will be invited to participate in a special Blue Service to be held at the close of the month during which prayers will be offered for families and children.
By: Kathryn Campbell
Photo caption: Minister of Social Services and Urban Development the Hon. Lanisha Rolle launched Child Protection Month on Thursday at the Ministry’s Baillou Hill Road offices.
(BIS Photos/Derek Smith)