Practical and relevant guidelines are said to be synonymous with the right attitude in dealing with Child Abuse cases and the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of family, Social Services and Gender Affairs, Sylvanie Burton, has called on stakeholders to take the necessary steps in making this become a reality.
Burton made the remarks while addressing a Health and Police consultation on Child Abuse reporting procedures and guidelines which took place at the Fort Young Hotel Vault on Monday 13th July 2015.
“The right attitude in carrying out both the medical and criminal investigation is equally important,” she said. “The right procedures and guidelines need also to be in place when we are reporting within the agencies for the purposes of lack of delay and confidentiality and when the right individuals would have to deal with the matter are informed they can make the right decisions. Hence the need for the review of the guidelines for reporting child abuse incidences.”
She continued, “Today it is my hope that you will take the necessary steps in reviewing and making these guidelines more practical and relevant for efficiency and effectiveness and this will no doubt contribute to the safety of our children of Dominica,” she stated.
Burton noted that the issue is “one of great concern to us all,” adding that “there is absolutely no excuse for a child being abused in any form or way.”
She added that the Police, Social Welfare and the Health Professionals, who are involved in the process when a child abuse is reported, are the most integral and critical players in the whole process of investigating the incidences of child abuse in Dominica.
“They are the ones who are involved in the information gathering on what actually took place when officials know what to do and what not to do. This can either make or break a case against the perpetrators even before it reaches the court,” she stated.
Meantime the Coordinator of the Child Abuse Prevention Unit Jemma Azille-Lewis believes that it is time to have a review of the guidelines on reporting child abuse.
“Today we are here to discuss the issue of child abuse all the different forms which are sexual, physical, neglect or abandonment and also emotional abuse. We are here to review a set of guidelines that was put forward in the year 2002. There was a The short review of this document which was done in 2005 and we are in 2015 and it is vital, it is important that these be reviewed,” she said. “This is 10 years later and I think that having a protocol or guidelines in place, the matter of reporting child abuse cases is very important.”
Stakeholders from the Ministry of Health, Dominica Police Force, and Social Welfare Division were among attendees.
Discussion is expected to be centered around: Child abuse- what do you know and what would you do? With Jemma Azille Lewis; Review of child abuse reporting procedures and guidelines by onsultant Mr. Martin Anthony; an Eastern Caribbean study on: Public opinion on corporal punishment, public’s perception on child abuse and domestic violence which was conducted in 2014 by UNICEF, to be presented by Jemma Azille Lewis.
Magistrate Gloria Augustus is to make a presentation on: From Examination/Medical Intervention and investigation to the court