The Department of Probation and Child Protection Services is using the week of November 20 to 25 to highlight children’s rights and emphasize the importance of protecting young people under the age of 18 years.
The period is being commemorated as Child Abuse Prevention Week in St. Kitts and Nevis. It seizes on the momentum of World Children’s Day observed annually on November 20 as well as the newly declared observation of World Day for the Prevention and Healing from Child Sexual Exploitation, Abuse and Violence on November 18, 2022.
In a televised address on Sunday, Junior Minister responsible for Social Development and Gender Affairs, the Honourable Isalean Phillip, said that authorities continue to receive reports of child abuse, that are troubling to the government.
“The Ministry of Social Development and Gender Affairs intends to increase awareness of this serious issue throughout the week, and beyond, by highlighting child abuse prevention strategies, strengthening alliances with community groups and stakeholders, and creating new partnerships that will ultimately lead to communities that provide safer environments for children and facilitate their holistic inclusion,” Honourable Phillip said.
She called on adults to learn more about the signs and symptoms of child abuse so that they can help extend the protection safety net for children.
“Parents with greater support systems tend to be more resilient, less isolated and therefore more likely to provide safer home environments for children,” the Junior Minister stressed. “As such, we must provide support for parents and families not only in the household but also in the workplace by seeking to implement family-friendly policies that encourage family cohesion.”
Adults were also encouraged to get involved in volunteerism so that they can positively engage children. Some options mentioned included becoming a scout leader, teaching a baking course for children, reading children’s stories at the local library, or teaching a Sunday school class.
“Having adults involved in these activities ensures that children are not only properly supervised but are also actively engaged in positive ways that help in growing their confidence and advancing their development,” Honourable Phillip expressed.
Staff from the Department of Probation and Child Protection Services are appearing on various media outlets this week to raise awareness of Child Abuse Prevention. On Wednesday, November 24, staff members will read to children attending public preschools, Thursday, November 25, there is a parenting workshop, and on Friday, November 26, there is a celebration dubbed Go Blue Day. This is in honour of the Blue Bear, which is the symbol of child sexual abuse awareness.