by Linda Straker
Delma Thomas, Social Development Minister, had disclosed that a young child at the age of 8 recently attempted suicide, and has issued a call for all Grenadians to become part of the fight against child abuse.
“We cannot be comfortable that our children are being abused,” she told the Parliament as part of her contribution to the 2018 Budget Debate. She refrained from informing the House whether or not the child was a victim of abuse in any of its forms. The different forms of abuse are neglect, physical, sexual, emotional and financial.
“Let us rise up and take back our children; collectively we can do it!” she said while confirming to parliament that based on recent events, and in on reflection, she realised that women in her community around the same age of her mother would have had their first child at 15, and she is convinced that child sexual abuse is nothing new, but people are now more aware and are reporting to the authorities about the issue.
In Grenada, the age of sexual consent is 16, while a child is a person under the age of 18.
Recently, the National Child Abuse Prevention Committee disclosed that 159 cases of child sexual abuse cases were recorded for the period January to June 2018, while dozens of children are victims of parent/guardian neglect.
In his budget presentation, Finance Minister Dr Keith Mitchell said that government has taken a decision to establish a Special Victims Unit and hotline as to combat child sexual and other forms of abuse and violent behaviour.
Though praising the move, Thomas, who has been the social development minister since March 2013, said that these actions would not solve the ‘deep-rooted’ problem of abuse that is plaguing the society.
“No hotline can solve the problem! No sex offenders’ registry can solve this problem,” she said while disclosing that in recent times she has had a series of meetings with church leaders and other community organisations with a view to taking action to curb the problem.
“We have a responsibility to cover our children, to protect our children,” she told the parliament.