Crime link

Psychiatrist Issues warning on child abuse

With an estimated 50 per cent of children in Latin America and the Caribbean said to be experiencing at least one form of abuse, an official today warned that this could redound into a worsening problem of crime.

Consultant psychiatrist Dr Maisha Emmanuel voiced the concern today as the issue of child abuse came under the microscope during a symposium hosted at the state-run Queen Elizabeth Hospital by the Faculty of Medical Sciences at the University of the West Indies and the Centre for Bioethics at the Harvard Medical School.

Speaking on the topic Confronting Child Abuse in Small Societies, Dr Emmanuel pointed to the findings of a comprehensive 2006 United Nations study on violence against children in the Caribbean.

She said data from that study revealed that not only child abuse was rampant in the region, but that children who were victims of domestic abuse were nine times more likely to be involved in criminal behaviour and to become violent than those who were not abuse victims.

The consultant psychiatrist also suggested that there was a link between community violence and child abuse, with the majority of Caribbean countries now said to be well above the global average homicide rate of 6.2 per 100,000, with Barbados averaging 10.91, Jamaica 43.21 and Trinidad and Tobago 30.88 per 100,000.

“It boggles the mind that we here at 166 square miles have murder rates higher than the US and the UK. Why is it we can have such high rates of murder in the region?” she said, while emphasizing the link between child abuse and crime.

“About 50 per cent of all children in Latin America and the Caribbean have experienced some form of abuse. That is very high. It is so high that child abuse in the Caribbean has been described as endemic and rampant and should now be treated as a public health concern. That is where we are heading now,” she said, adding that “in spite of the prevalence it is quite underreported” due to a number of reasons, including fear.

While lamenting that too often victims were blamed, Dr Emmanuel described the situation as “disturbing”. However, amid calls for Barbados and other countries to make it mandatory for child abuse to be reported, she cautioned countries not to put systems in place that they could not maintain due to financial constraints.

Among other the key recommendations made in the 2006 study were a review and upgrade of existing legislation and the implementation of child friendly systems to combat the abuse scourge.

However, while warning that child abuse was “not going anywhere”, Emmanuel warned that the current laws to do with children’s rights and protection were “confusing”.

She explained that not only was there a lack of uniformity in some definitions used, but also in some cases an apparent absence of legislation to combat trafficking and the sale of children.

“So many of our laws [they switch] depending on what is happening. So you have some countries where a child is 16 and others that go up to 18.

“Right here in Barbados you can have sex at 16 but anything else is 18. So clearly we are confused . . . we have to get it right. We need to be clear,” she insisted.

Dr Emmanuel said while legislation would not totally solve the problem, it was step one in the process, which also required enforcement, greater public awareness and better understanding of the issues affecting the population.

“If it is not written in law you cannot prosecute anybody for it. So you may be alarmed or respond in disgust [but] that means nothing if you cannot do something about the situation,” she added.

9 Responses to Crime link

  1. Tony Webster January 27, 2018 at 6:15 am

    One smart lady! Those of us who espouse a citizenry of mature, civilised, productive adults…might see the need to give our children the very best possible start in life, including protection/mitigation against the risks of youth “coming-off the rails”.
    Beware the horrors of a “lost generation”: this is the real slippery slope a society should avoid at all costs.

  2. Sheron Inniss January 27, 2018 at 6:49 am

    Yet the court in Barbados tells you that dead beat, abusive fathers have visitation rights and enforces and supports said rights. Real confusing and bewildering. I do not know whether to stuepse or LOL.

  3. jrsmith January 27, 2018 at 11:58 am

    Take Barbados out of the equation , in Barbados laws and legislation is never enforced , because the law makers and enforcers breaking the same laws……………………….

  4. Jennifer January 27, 2018 at 4:27 pm

    It would have been good to know the race of these children.

    • Jennifer January 27, 2018 at 4:35 pm

      Failure to discipline and obesity = neglect should also be classed as child abuse. In bim after child abuse is reported, then what???

  5. luther thorne January 27, 2018 at 7:40 pm

    I agree with you.
    Could not have said it better

  6. Committed Bajan January 28, 2018 at 5:45 am

    And it will get worst
    Now that UWI isn’t 100% tax payer funded less students are enrolled
    BCC is now bursting at the seams with students that would be at UWI
    SPJI is the same with students that should be at BCC
    And the vocational classes with whom would have been SJPI students
    Where are the vocational classes students?

    • Jennifer January 28, 2018 at 8:48 am

      Well spotted. And make a guess who will be the recipients of the worsening end. We really need a FULL overhaul of EVERY appointed SYSTEM in bim. Are no one undertaking any studies in this area, since this is what those study pros love to do???

      One time a person living in DETROIT USA said a so called black thief was asked “Why do you black people steal from and do damage to your own people??? The thief replied, because when you go for the other races you get maximum time in prison, but when you steal from your own the time is shorter. Imagine the very systems is also one of the biggest detriments to this people also. This whole thing is like being in a war and lying in a trench, surrounded on all sides.
      We really need system variables which generate a mindset of dignity, industry, and self love. Put aside pride that is part of our problem.

  7. Jennifer January 28, 2018 at 8:54 am

    @Committed Bajan – Well spotted. If you are not part of the problem then you are part of the solution. And we got many entities being part of the problem, while covering up the solutions.


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