CCB steps in after shocking rise in child abuse cases
The island’s child protection agency, the Child Care Board (CCB), has removed an alarming number of juveniles from abusive homes in the past week.
CCB Chairman Kenneth Knight told Barbados TODAY, the agency took a staggering 13 children away from abusive homes last week alone.
Knight credited the recent suspicious and highly publicized deaths of two minors, which sparked allegations of abuse, and subjected the board to public ridicule, for heightened awareness of the issue of child abuse.
“The community seems to [be] becoming much more aware of the seriousness of child abuse in Barbados as a result of this case [six-year-old Jahan King, who died at the QEH], because only last week, we had to take in 13 children from abused situations. If it keeps at this pace, we will have no space for them. That’s quite a large number. That’s what we took in last week. There was definite abuse in the household,” Knight said.
He described the number of cases as appalling, adding it was safe to say this was one of the largest number in a single week, in living memory.
“When it was reported to me [by Director Joan Crawford] last Friday, I was just appalled at the number. What it does now . . . I have another problem on my hand. I have to find the facilities to house these increasing cases. I am just hoping this is just a one-off week where we had an influx, you know,” Knight declared.
The board chairman pointed out that in keeping with protocol and the law, at least some of the parents would be charged, while several would undergo counselling. He would not say if any of the cases was sexual abuse –– something he stressed the board would not tolerate – nor was he able to provide a breakdown of the categories of abuse which forced the board to step in and remove the most recent victims.
“The specific cases I can’t tell you categorically if XYZ is charged, or if XYZ is being counselled. But I would say the majority of cases need counselling. That’s the first line they [child care officers] would take. Then we have the outright cases of sexual abuse. We have zero tolerance for that.”
The child protection agency’s top official added that the abused children came from homes from across Barbados, and said he was pleased that people now appeared to be reporting cases of suspected child abuse.
Following Jahan King’s death, Knight complained that too many Barbadians who were aware of child abuse were failing to report the cases to the board. In the wake of the increased reporting in the past week, he told Barbados TODAY he hoped the communities would continue to play their part in helping the authorities make inroads into this scourge.
“We have to protect our children. I think people have become aware that there is a serious situation in Barbados when it comes to child abuse. I think the society in itself, judging from the comments I have heard from private citizens who have spoken to me, a lot of people are alarmed at the number of child abuse cases that are reported,” he added.
Knight said that while the estimated 700 cases reported every year were fightening, this number did not reflect the true picture.
“You would know if the Child Care Board received 700 a year, you would know that’s up about four times the actual cases that exist. We do not get all of the actual cases being called in. We get a percentage of the amount. So I think the society itself is concerned and they should be,” Knight stated.