by Michael J Lane
In recognition of global Child Abuse Awareness Month, it is important for Grenadians to confront an issue many don’t wish to discuss.
In order to address what is heading toward a silent epidemic, this issue must be raised to the public forum. Some might be surprised that in a 2019 UNICEF survey, 37% of Grenadians supported corporal punishment. While this is a high number, it is an improvement since 2014 when the percentage was 49% in support, an improvement that is in part due to the Government’s willingness to address this issue.
It is of utmost importance for our future generations that we make a community eﬀort to cast shame on abuse of our nation’s most vulnerable. Our country’s future rests on the next generation’s shoulders and so we cannot ignore the consistent and noteworthy science showing the destructive outcomes of child abuse. For example, spanking in children increases aggressive behaviour and makes children more likely to hit others; it is well documented that corporal punishment has been shown to damage relationships between children and their parents or caregivers. Girls who are abused tend to form relationships with violent men and boys who are abused tend to become violent in adulthood.
Another very disturbing truth about corporal punishment is the long-term implications it has on the development of a child’s brain. As noted by researchers in psychiatry, paediatrics, and public health, corporal punishment is linked with increased prevalence of mood disorders, anxiety disorders, substance abuse, and personality disorders. Part of the work of Reach Within is to repair those changes using therapeutic programs and we have indeed measured success. It is important now that our nation’s people start to confront the issue at its root. We have to do better in our communities to educate one another for the betterment of our whole country. We must also acknowledge that the root of this behaviour lies in the historical colonial treatment of our ancestors that has been passed down generations. Let’s start talking about it and let’s break the pattern.
Dr Karen Lawson founder of Reach Within noted that “Awareness is a key tool that we must use to end child abuse in Grenada. The first step is to educate parents about the long-term eﬀects of abuse and simultaneously empower children to feel comfortable in seeking help.”
Grenada’s Child Protection Authority ought to be commended for shedding light on the importance of child abuse prevention and reporting. Let’s keep the momentum going and continue to educate one another and spread awareness of this critical issue. Our organisation would like to remind all of what Paul said to the Ephesians: “In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold” (Ephesians 4:26-27).
A message from Reach Within – a local non-profit focused on child abuse prevention and the treatment of the abuse’s eﬀects. www.reachwithin.org.