Alarming statistics about child sexual abuse

Crime Stoppers Barbados has revealed alarming statistics about child sexual abuse.

It says 20 per cent of students –– both male and female –– in Forms 1, 2 and 3 in nine secondary schools have admitted to being abused sexually.

The research was conducted by Crime Stoppers to help understand the root causes of anger and conflicts among students.

Devrol Dupigny, director and head of business development for Crime Stoppers International, who expressed serious concerns about the scourge, said a signification number of the 8,000 students benefiting from the Anger Management And Conflict Resolution Programme had taken part in the research.

As a result, Crime Stoppers has partnered with the Florida-based Lauren’s Kids Organization on a pilot programme to tackle child sexual abuse.

The organization’s chief executive officer Lauren Book, who was herself sexually abused by her female nanny, is now conducting a series of workshops targeting both primary and secondary schools.

“Child sexual abuse cuts across all socioeconomic barriers, all cultural barriers, it doesn’t matter where you live, where you go to school, where you go to church. If parents are not careful and they don’t empower and educate their children they will become a victim of this type of crime,” she noted.

Book pointed to World Health Organization figures which indicate that 47 per cent of girls and 31 per cent of boys in the Caribbean will be sexually abused before the age of 18.

“These crimes are occurring and it’s important that we realize that 95 per cent of sexual abuse is preventable with education and awareness. We need to empower teachers to know what to look for, the signs of abuse and parents need to be reeducated,” she said, adding that 90 per cent of the time children are abused by someone they know, love and trust.

Earlier today, Book and her team, as well as representatives of Crime Stoppers, held an interactive workshop with close to 80 students between the ages of six and ten at the St Jude’s Primary School.

Book said: “We have to really break that cycle and create a culture shift not only here in the Caribbean or Barbados but throughout the world so that we can empower children to protect and to keep themselves safe.

“I’m so excited to be talk about issues like body boundaries, safe secrets and unsafe secrets. We’re also dealing with bullying, Internet safety, and safe peer-to-peer relationships.

“I’m very happy about the willingness of Crime Stoppers to bring this life-saving curriculum to secondary schools throughout Barbados.”

The training started on June 15 and ends on June 28 with facilitators, who have experience in child care and social work. Those officials are then expected to take the programme into summer camps and secondary schools.

“We’ll be [looking at] the structure, how the delivery will be done, whether we need to segment the first forms and the type of message from a first form to a third form students, whether there are peculiarities that we’ll need to take into consideration and vary the message because of the age difference so that type of specific training will be conducted,” Dupigny said.

On Friday, an estimated 40 guidance counsellors and social workers would receiving training on issues such as recognising the signs of sexual abuse and how to intervene.

Dupigny is hopeful the programme would be rolled out in schools in September, once adequate funding is provided by the corporate community.

“Though this programme may not be introduced throughout the entire school system, there will be a focus as we roll it out in terms of the 11-to-13 age group so that will really be focusing on Forms 1 to 3 and we believe in relatively small class sizes so more than likely it will be done on a class by class basis. It would be across the board training for the students and the intention is for it to be in all secondary schools,” he said.

Once successfully implemented in Barbados, officials of Crime Stoppers anticipate other regional states would follow.


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