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Jul 10, 2019

A Timely Forum on How to Protect Children in Cases of Child Abuse

A timely forum is taking place today. It is offering relevant information to the authorities on how to detect and protect children who are being abused. According to a report, over a thousand children are experiencing some form of abuse and neglect; most of them are girls who are being sexually exploited at a tender age. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.


Duane Moody, Reporting

Children First and Last Belize, referred to as C-FAL, is a non-profit organization that is trying to change children’s lives through education and healthcare. It was established in November of 2013 by a small group of professionals who want to provide assistance to children by linking them with organizations that can fill their needs. Today, it hosted a child abuse forum in which it has brought together stakeholders—from policymakers to law enforcement officers and others—to discuss the abuse that children are experiencing and how it can be dealt with.


Paul Lecky

Paul Lecky, President, C-FAL

“It’s really a child abuse forum and we have the experts in. The idea is to get the people who deal with children—police, the social workers, the teachers, coastguard, everybody that deal with children, to be able to identify a child that is being abused. So they come in contact with these kids every day, but how do you identify that a child has been abused so that we can take corrective measures earlier. So we are hoping that people walk away with the knowledge of how to identify these and where to get help.”


But what is child abuse and how many children in Belize are being affected. Statistics show that close to one thousand children are victims, especially those who are in stressed family settings. Majority are also young girls who are at times victims of sexual crimes. C.E.O. in the Ministry of Human Development, Social Transformation and Poverty Alleviation, Judith Alpuche says that the most prevalent case of child abuse is abandonment and neglect.


Judith Alpuche

Judith Alpuche, C.E.O., Ministry of Human Development, Social Transformation and Poverty Alleviation

“We see around roughly eight hundred to a thousand cases being reported every year and as I look at the statistics that has stayed more or less steady for at least the past five year. We are seeing cases of child neglect and abandonment; that year, those were the largest number of cases that we had to respond to. And then always we are seeing sexual abuse cases. So younger children then are more susceptible to the neglect and abandonment and physical abuse; girls in particular. And again on the other side, we have girls who are the most, the victims of sexual abuse and exploitation. So today, I am going to provide some education as to the system because the system is made up of more than human development. We respond to the child protection aspects, but the child protection system as a whole, you have the police dealing with the criminal aspects of it. So while we look at how do we protect the child from further harm, the police looks at what crime has been committed and takes that through investigation and through the judicial system if people are to be charged.”


While C.E.O. Alpuche says that it really does take a village to raise a child, the stakeholders are not saying that you should “spare the rod.” Corporal punishment in the homes is allowed, but when does it become abuse?


Kendra Flores-Carter

Dr. Kendra Flores-Carter, C.E.O., Caribbean Moms Network

“You have discipline right, but when you’re leaving bruises, when you’re leaving broken bones and marks and kids are bleeding; that’s not discipline. That’s abuse and I think some parents think it is okay. You can lash your kids how you want to beat them and it is fine; I am the mom. But there is a limit to discipline and parents need to understand that. And when they go overboard; then they end up traumatising their children.”


Doctor Kendra Flores Carter is an assistant professor at California Baptist University; she is the founder of the Janet Don’t Cry Foundation which is a non-profit body geared towards providing scholarships to children in need globally. She is also the C.E.O. of Caribbean Moms Network that does consultancy and training on factors that socially affect families. She says that trauma often triggers adverse behaviour in adulthood.


Dr. Kendra Flores-Carter

“Kids who experience adverse childhood experiences which are things like domestic violence, drugs in the home with parents, mental illness, things like that…if you have someone in the household that’s kinda experiencing those issues and you grow up in that environment, it can definitely affect you later on in life. So kids who have adverse childhood experiences have a higher chance of getting depressed as they get older, of committing crimes. The trauma they experience in their environment growing up so they have a higher chance of really becoming criminals if there is no one to buffer and no one to provide the resiliency and the support that they need while they are experiencing child abuse growing up and trauma in the home.”


Duane Moody for News Five.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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