Child abuse is not a secret children can afford to keep

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Patron of the 2022 observance of Child Protection Month, Mrs. Ann-Marie Davis

NASSAU, The Bahamas – Patron of the 2022 observance of Child Protection Month, Mrs. Ann-Marie Davis, Thursday, told students across The Bahamas attending the Child Protection Month Annual Church Service that child abuse in any form is not a secret they can afford to keep.

Mrs. Davis encouraged students to report all forms of child abuse they may be aware of, and to encourage persons who may be the victims of abuse, to report the abuse.

The Church Service was held Thursday (April 7) at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium and relayed nationwide under the theme: “There is No Excuse for Child Abuse, Stop the Violence” and was a collaboration between the Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development, its Department of Social Services and the Suspected Child Abuse and Neglect (SCAN) Unit of the Department of Public Health, Ministry of Health and Wellness.  Minister of Social Service and Urban Development, the Hon. Obadiah H. Wilchcombe also addressed the gathering.

Mrs. Davis, representative of the Office of the Spouse of the Prime Minister, had a word of advice for adults as well.

“You have to tell someone. Tell your teacher, tell your parents, tell your guidance counsellor, tell someone you trust. You can be saving a life when you report child abuse,” Mrs. Davis said told students, “and adults, if a child reports abuse to you, please pay attention; believe the child. Don’t dismiss it. Take the steps necessary towards ending whatever abuse might be happening to that child.

“As the Patron for this Child Protection Month, I implore all adults that we must do everything within our power to protect our children from all forms of abuse. Let us begin today so that no-one can be abused anymore or any (more) lives lost — one life lost, is one life too many. Let us all work together to end child abuse. We can do this. Let us do this.”

Mrs. Davis repeated the Pledge against Child Abuse she first made at the Press Conference announcing Child Abuse Month. The pledge commits those making it: “To discourage and report all forms of abuse and neglectful actions against the children of The Bahamas whether those actions are mental, emotional, verbal, physical, sexual, medical or spiritual.”

She told her audience that, oftentimes, if a friend confides in them that they have been abused, it is a cry for help.

“Sometimes when they talk to you, it is a cry for help. They want you to help them. It is during these times that you need to tell that friend that the abuse they are experiencing is not a secret they can afford to keep.”

Thursday’s Church Service was highlighted by outstanding performances by students from the Carlton Francis Primary School, Eva Hilton Primary School, Fox Town Primary School (Abaco), C.W. Sawyer Primary School, Thelma Gibson Primary School, Sandilands Primary School, Garvin Tynes Primary School, Stuart Manor Primary School (Exuma), in addition to the Early Childhood Development Centre.

They were joined by students from the H.O. Nash and L.W. Young Junior High Schools, the North Eleuthera High School, C.V. Bethel Senior High School, Bahamas Academy of Seventh-Day Adventists, and the New Providence Classical School.

Mrs. Davis applauded those performances, adding that the performances all had great meaning.

“I sat here today listening to all of our young people displaying talents of every kind — dance, singing, and poetry — and it all has such great meaning to me as I am sure it had for you. It was moving. Everything that was done here today, there was a message in it; a message for all of us. Young people, you are so special to this nation, you are our future and what you displayed here this morning (told) us what you are, what you believe in, and that we should all believe in you and protect you as much as we can and that is what we intend to do as a nation.

“The greatest love of all,” Mrs. Davis continued, “is love of self. Love yourself. Do not allow yourselves to be abused. Maintain your dignity. Preserve it, protect it. Protect yourselves, your brothers, your sisters, your friends,” Mrs. Davis added.  (BIS Photo/Kristaan Ingraham)