Sexual abuse of children is a major source of concern for welfare officials in Dominica with children below five years being abused in that way, they say.
Speaking at a Child Abuse Awareness Fair on the weekend, coordinator of the Child Abuse Unit, Jemma Azille-Lewis said sex abuse is the most reported form of child abuse on the island.
“Sexual abuse continues to remain the main form of abused reported at the social welfare division and also to the police,” she said.
But that is not all, for it appears that children below the age of five are being sexually abused in Dominica.
“When we see children being abused below the age of five, especially in the area of sexual abuse, we have to realize this is something serious,” Azille-Lewis noted.
Additionally, she said, children are being abused in various forms including physical and emotional abuse and child neglect.
She called on the general public to report cases of abuse since the process is confidential and anonymous.
“You give the information of who you think is abused and and we act on it,” Azille-Lewis said.
A special call was made to parent, for according to Azille-Lewis, they have a special duty to protect their children.
“If you know that your child is being abused, you don’t go and keep it a secret because it happened with a family member,” she said. “You have to think of the effect that can have on your child. What is your child worth to you as a parent, to know that your child is being abused and you don’t follow through with the cases at the courts, you don’t communicate with the police, you don’t support them in the investigations. Think of your child,” she admonished parents.
Azille-Lewis noted that child abuse has “long lasting negative effects” on children.
“These things can last a life time if we do not take a step forward,” she said.
The fair was organized by the Social Welfare Division in collaboration with the Kiwanis Club and other social agencies in Dominica.