Minister for Social Services, Community Development and Gender Affairs Gloria Shillingford says the abuse of children is not peculiar to Dominica but a worldwide phenomenon, which is not only to a threat to the life of children, but has actually occasioned the death of children.
She made the remarks at a press conference to officially mark the commencement of Child Abuse Awareness Week in Dominica.
“Within the local context, child abuse has always been with us but has always been a matter of national concern,” she said.
Shillingford said in 2010 there was an increase of reported child abuse incidences in comparison to 2009.
“During the year 2010 there were 209 reported child abuse cases, whereas in 2009 there were 117 reported cases … This could be attributed to the increase in public sensitization and awareness on the issue of child abuse in Dominica; however it has been proven that the majority cases are factual,” she said.
She said the most reported form of abuse was sexual abuse with a total of 147 reported cases, in comparison to 72 reported cases in 2009, which is an increase of 75 reported cases.
“Physical abuse and neglect was the second highest form of abuse during 2010 with a total of 28 and 21 reported cases, respectively,” she said.
Shillingford said an area of particular concern is incest. She said the trust of children in immediate relatives is betrayed since incest is committed by the child’s relatives.
“There were 18 reported cases of incest. Also of concern are pregnancies occurring due to child sexual abuse. The record shows 13 reported cases of teenage pregnancies for the year 2010,” she said.
The Social Welfare Division has chosen the theme “There is no excuse for child abuse, save our nations children”.