Sun | Apr 23, 2017

Policing problems - St Thomas culture shielding child molesters

Published:Sunday | March 15, 2015 | 3:00 AMJolyn Bryan
Residents of Somerset, St Thomas, pay close attention during a community empowerment session to highlight the alarming problem of child sexual abuse in the parish.

Struggling against a culture that says, 'a little sex a no nothing' and adults who turn a blind eye to, if not condoning, the sexual abuse of children, the St Thomas police are finding it difficult to arrest and charge the predators.

"Some men believe if they are the bread winners they have the right to do whatever they want. So if they are with the mother, and providing for the family, they see the daughter as a package deal," head of the Yallahs police, assistant superintendent Hopeton Nicholson told The Sunday Gleaner.

Nicholson charged that fear has kept many mothers quiet about the abuse, and unwilling to name the perpetrators.

"They have the wrong priorities; money is everything. So it's not that they don't see a problem with it, it's just that they are afraid to lose the support, and the man believes that once his money is being spent, he should get compensation from whomever he chooses. A return on their investment, so to speak," said Nicholson.

He noted that arrests for sexual offences hinge on reports that were made to the police, and could only result in convictions if proper investigations are done.

According to Nicholson, the number of persons arrested for carnal abuse is growing in the parish as more adults become aware of the implications of sexual contact with children.

"We speak in schools, in churches, we have seminars, and workshops, regular community meetings where the police interact with the public, in an effort to educate them on these matters. Anywhere we can speak to people, we do. We engage with parents, communities, students and guidance councillors, and make them aware of what their responsibilities are," said the senior cop.

While conceding that the chances are not coming as quickly as the police would like, Nicholson contended that more residents of the parish are aware of, and vigilant against child abuse, with guardians, caregivers, neighbours and teachers ready and willing to make reports.

In the first two months of this year, almost 90 cases of underage girls having sex with men have been reported to the Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse (CISOCA).

This is almost 20 more than the number of cases reported to CISOCA for the corresponding period last year.