More than 100 children assaulted in St Thomas
More than 100 cases of sexual assault have been recorded against children in St Thomas since the start of this year, and the police believe that there are scores of other unreported cases.
Sub-officer in charge of community safety and security in the parish, Inspector Ransford Smith, made the disclosure during a town hall meeting hosted by the Child Development Agency (CDA) in Yallahs, St Thomas, last Thursday
According to Smith, 120 cases of sexual offences have been reported in St Thomas since the start of the year. Of that number, 105 were committed against children. Sixty of the reports were for sexual intercourse with children.
"The concern we have is that there's still a lot more cases that are not being reported," said Smith.
"What we want is that each case that occurs is reported so we can investigate it and have the perpetrators brought to justice," added Smith at the meeting, which was held under the theme 'Protecting Children: It's Everybody's Responsibility'.
The police inspector was supported by officials from several agencies responsible for children. They urged residents of St Thomas to become more alert where minors are concerned.
"We encourage persons to make reports of any case of child abuse they've heard of, seen or suspect so that additional interventions [can be carried out]," said Greg Smith, registrar at the Office of Children's Registry.
Robert Williams, CDA regional director for the southeast region, expressed his disappointment with what he described as parents' lackadaisical behaviour regarding the welfare of their children.
"I believe that one of the biggest problems that we are faced with is the failure of many parents to realise that it's their responsibility to, first and foremost, take care of their child. A lot of them believe that it's another person's responsibility, or the State's or the government's responsibility," charged Williams
"They don't play the part that they ought to play so when the child starts to give behavioural problems everybody is wondering where they went wrong. Parents must do the things that are required of them to raise the child in the right way, then this may help to alleviate most of society's problem," added Williams.
The CDA executive also announced that a Child Protection Committee has now been established in the parish.
"It will make the child-protection sector more visible. People will know where to go, who to talk to and where to get help, so it is just a good beginning of things to come for St Thomas when it comes to child protection," said Williams.