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Hidden abuse

A United Nations senior official is branding Barbados as a country where abused and neglected children are “hidden” behind seemingly prosperous homes.

UNICEF’s Representative in Barbados, Khin-Sandi Lwin made her position known after receiving a cheque for $35,000 from PriceSmart’s child rights charity at its Green Hill outlet this morning to go towards the UN body’s local Every Child Has Rights initiative.

Lwin told reporters that while Barbados may be well developed and people appear to be prosperous, there was still a significant level of poverty in which children have to live.

She said the initiative, which was launched last November, was designed to deal with the most critical problem among minors in Barbados, which is abuse and neglect.

“You see a lot of wealth and prosperity . . . but underneath the surface, you still have a significant number of children living in poverty and those who are in homes that look prosperous, but [they] are abused and neglected,” asserted the UN official.

Lwin noted that support for the UNICEF initiative was imperative because it collaborates with the schools and other social agencies as a child sensitive and interactive programme, particularly with teachers.

She observed that the funding from PriceSmart increased substantially from last year and admitted that the money would be well spent on the children of Barbados.

The children’s advocate also said her organisation’s child abuse programme is geared towards addressing bullying in schools.

“It’s all connected [the initiative]. When a child is raised with punishment as discipline . . . that is physical punishment as discipline, then you are introducing violence to a child. So that is very much connected and we are trying to address that in a total and serious way,” added Lwin.

She is therefore recommending positive behavioural management in schools by teachers, which can be broadened to families through homes, where a child is disciplined to have self discipline.

“That type of approach,” continued the UN child activist, “is really to encourage children to say, ‘I don’t get what I want, by using force and using violence. It’s also connected with growing violence among young people. When you come from a violent background, then you take it out as normal practice. It’s all very connected, that’s what we are trying to address with our positive behaviour management programme.

“The issue of pornography in schools and among young people generally, is another issue being tackled by UNICEF in Barbados. “I think that is where the . . . initiative is going into the community to engage with community leaders, church leaders to say that you have a role. Not just look the other way, but to actually talk about it, and deal with what’s happening in the family,” insisted Lwin.

Regional marketing manager of PriceSmart in Barbados, Anita Bhola, explained that the $35,000 presented to the local UNICEF office for its child abuse and neglect programme,   was part of a total of $75,000 contributed to child care issues in this country and Trinidad and Tobago.

Bhola assured the UNICEF Representative that PriceSmart would continue to support its child neglect and abuse initiative.

She said the money was raised from donations of members in Barbados and residents in Trinidad.

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