This year’s child month theme is appropriate says the Director of Probation and Child Protection Services, Debra Matthew.
Child month which is celebrated throughout June is being observed under the theme “ACT NOW! Break the Silence – Stop Child Abuse” this year.
Asked for her thoughts on the theme Ms. Matthew replied, “The word silence very much is the issue with the cases that we have in St. Kitts. Child abuse tends to be a big secret and I’m not just talking about the child keeping the secret, but persons in the children’s lives who should be protecting these children keep these things secretive so it’s very important that everyone in the community....should speak out now to make the child’s life much better than it is so I think it is quite appropriate.”
She described child abuse as any kind of violation inflicted on a child adding that cases of neglect were predominantly the ones her department had to deal with. “We have physical abuse, sexual abuse and indecent sexual molestation, emotional and mental abuse and neglect so those are the four types that we have. We find that neglect would be the one that we tend to have more of and when we deal with neglect, as we go in and we assess the situation we might find that the other types of abuse come out…”
WINN asked Ms. Matthew if there was a way for her department and the public to work together to bring an end to child abuse. In her response she stated that child abuse would probably continue for quite a while as it had been going on for many years before. However, the Probation and Child Protection Services Department was currently looking at legislation to help with tackling some of the challenges that were hindering progress in that area. “….one of the things we have been looking at is legislation – laws that we have in place that will help us to better prosecute these cases in which we don’t have the interference from some persons who will choose not to give evidence or give the statement that’s needed or continue into the courtroom and do what they promised they’ll do, so we need some legislation in place to help us take care of that and we are working on that now," said Ms. Matthew.