Social Services Minister, LaRoda, launches Child Protection Month

0
675
Minister LaRoda and Department of Social Services team.

NASSAU, The Bahamas – Minister of Social Services, Information and Broadcasting, the Hon. Myles K. LaRoda, launched Child Protection Month in The Bahamas, Friday, April 12, with a call for a united approach to reducing the incidences of child abuse in-country.

These include incidences of physical, sexual, mental and verbal abuse in addition to neglect.

Minister LaRoda said: “As a nation, we have an obligation to address all forms of child abuse at all levels within our society, communities, churches and places of learning. Therefore, we will continue to reach out to Faith-based organizations, civil society and the general public to report matters where children are being abused.

“During the month, we will continue to bring awareness to the disturbing reality of maltreatment against our children. We will educate the wider community on the signs of child abuse and how they can report such matters which is mandatory as outlined in the Child Protection Act, 2007.”

Persons who suspect that a child is being abused or maltreated, Mr. LaRoda said, should telephone the National Hotlines (322-2763, 711 and 422-2763) with the relevant information “to cause an investigation.”

Mr. LaRoda said statistics from the Department of Social Services have indicated a steady increase of cases over the past three years, especially following the COVID-19 Pandemic.

“We continue to see an alarming rate that we have to address,” Mr. LaRoda said. “Remember the African Proverb which states that ‘It takes a village to raise a Child?’ Let’s work together and make it happen.”

The Theme for 2024 is: “One Nation United to Protect our Children: Moving from the Challenge to the Change.”

“This clarion call speaks to the ongoing collaboration of all of us to join forces and resources to eradicate child abuse,” Minister LaRoda added.

Various activities have been planned for the month in New Providence, Grand Bahama and the Family Islands. These include church services, speaking engagements, a poem competition, in addition to workshops for Social Workers.

One such activity was the planting of a Pinwheel Garden at the Palmdale Primary School (Monday, April 15).  The event was a collaboration between the School, the Child Protection Unit and Child Protection Month Committee of the Department of Social Services, the Suspected Child Abuse and Neglect (SCAN) Unit, and The Bahamas Social Workers Association. It took place in the school’s Reading Garden where students are encouraged to travel the world through reading.

Pinwheels serve as a reminder of the commitment to safe-guarding the innocence and well-being of every child, embodying the spirit of childhood – they spin freely, with joy, curiosity, and boundless energy and evoke memories of carefree days filled with laughter, innocence and wonder.

The Pinwheel’s constant motion symbolizes the momentum of the collective effort to prevent child abuse. It further serves as a reminder that societies must remain vigilant in their endeavors to protect one of its more vulnerable group of persons – its children.

Moreover, the Pinwheel’s vibrant colours represent the diversity and resilience of children. Regardless of their backgrounds and/or circumstances, every child deserves to grow and thrive in an environment free from harm and fear.

“Throughout the year, the Department of Social Services is mandated to protect our children. However, during April, we highlight our united efforts with our social partners such as SCAN (Suspected Child Abuse and Neglect), Bahamas Association of Social Workers, and others in the fight against abuse,” Mr. LaRoda added.