Nadisha Hunter, Staff Reporter
STARTLING FIGURES showing the number of relatives sexually abusing children have caused eyebrows to be raised among some children's experts.
Statistics from the Office of the Children's Registry (OCR) show that since 2007, 715 mothers and stepmothers, along with 950 fathers and stepfathers, have committed sexual offences against children.
The statistics also show that a significant number of siblings, foster parents and wards of the state were also offenders.
Sexual abuse was also committed by 517 other relatives of the children.
The offenders against girls included mothers and stepmothers with 656 cases while 54 fathers or stepfathers were accused of sexually assaulting boys.
Nearly 900 fathers or stepfathers were accused of sexually assaulting girls under their care while 53 mothers and stepmothers faced similar accusations of abusing boys under their care.
More than 7,000 children have been sexually molested since 2007.
In the five-year period, reports of sexual abuse were filed on behalf of 6,757 girls and 422 boys.
Children's Advocate Diahann Gordon Harrison said the figures released indicated a very worrying trend and the act was a violation of the children's rights.
"We need to continue dialogue with our children in terms of increasing their awareness about the need to protect themselves. They need to understand their body and that if something doesn't feel right, it is quite likely not right," she argued.
According to Dr Ganesh Shetty, consultant child psychiatrist, some adults have failed the children both directly and indirectly.
"We put up with so much stuff, we keep quiet because it is not our business and we think it is far away, not in our household, so it is OK as it doesn't affect us. But the more we think that it doesn't affect us is the more these things are going to happen," Shetty said.
Among the things he said could have caused persons to carry out these activities are psychosocial factors, their sexualisation and mental disorder.
"How they have been raised, if they are raised making them feel selfish, all they have to do is use other people to fulfil their needs. It can happen if people have molested them or treated them without any care or love," he added.
The matter of sexual abuse within the home has returned to the fore following revelations this week of an incident in which an 11-year-old in St Ann was allegedly molested by her grand uncle, who reportedly impregnated her.
The St Ann episode is coupled with an incident in St James in which five females from one family were raped, including an eight-year-old who has since been hospitalised.