Mon | Feb 6, 2023

Silent families perpetuate sexual abuse of children

Published:Tuesday | April 3, 2012 | 12:00 AM

The silence of mothers as well as other family members has been listed as a major contributor to the high incidences of sexual abuse being perpetrated on the nation's children, many of whom are just infants.

Gripped by the revelations of a medical doctor who on the weekend highlighted her experiences with young children infected with sexually transmitted diseases, former president of the Jamaica Medical Doctors' Association (JMDA) Dr Dayton Campbell, said the silence and under-reporting of sexual abuse of children, was equally traumatic on the victims.

Campbell noted that some may never recover from the scars of abuse.

Campbell told The Gleaner yesterday that doctors are mandated by law to report sexual abuse on children, once they are below the age of consent, to the Child Development Agency (CDA) and the Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse (CISOCA).

"Once there is a child below the age of consent who there is any suspicion that this person is having any sort of sexual contact, it is normally reported," he said.

Although above the age for sexual consent, Campbell said a pregnant 17-year-old who requires a C-section for delivery cannot give consent. They can only give consent at age 18 years.

He said teachers would often see, and become much more aware of the abuses than doctors, "as some signs and symptoms are not necessarily brought to the doctors".

"But the worst part is the silence in bringing the perpetrators to justice. Sometimes the sexually abused children are accompanied by the very individuals who are abusing them," he said.

Campbell, who is now a legislator in Jamaica's House of Representatives, said the fear of repercussions from perpetrators has allowed abusers to become multiple repeat offenders, never being prosecuted for their crimes on children.