Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Human Resource Planning, Vocational Training and National Excellence, Chandler Hyacinth says the Ministry is addressing the many cases of child abuse that they receive through schools.

Hyacinth was addressing a press conference held on Monday, July 11 2022 where the results of the 2022 Grade Six National Assessment were announced.

She says the number of reported cases of child abuse from students through schools, concerns the Ministry.

“The Ministry of Education is very much concerned about child abuse. Those you hear in the public is one thing but in our schools we receive much more cases and once the cases come to our light, we always work with the necessary organizations to deal with those issues. So we work closely with the Social Welfare Department and their officers. We have our counselors who are stretched all over the island to provide support not just to the students who may be the victims but also with the parents and the other students at school,” Mrs. Hyacinth stated.

Mrs. Hyacinth says programmes are in place to assist students at both the primary and secondary level who are victims of child abuse.

“We have programmes for dealing and providing the necessary support to our students and we want to place on record our thanks to persons like Ms. Joanne Carette and Ms. Adella David. And in our secondary schools, every secondary school has a counsellor or two,” the PS noted.

PS Hyacinth says working with parents has proven to be a challenge when dealing with these cases. However, she says parenting programmes have also been implemented to assist parents in these situations.

“The challenge is sometimes when you have to work with the parents, to get them to work with you. And the number of cases that we have to deal with is always a lot and challenging as we work with the Welfare Department. But certainly we are concerned and we are taking steps. That’s why we have Health and Family Life as a subject throughout the school system at both primary and secondary schools. It is an opportunity for our teachers to sensitize our students. It is an opportunity for us to work with students so that they feel comfortable brining in their cases to us. We have parenting programmes at our schools and we cannot emphasize the need for parenting programmes because that helps the parents as well,” Mrs. Hyacinth went on to say.

PS Hyacinth added that the Ministry will continue to work with the relevant authorities to assist the victims. She encouraged the community to support the Ministry and the authorities when required.

“So we do our best. We have to work with the police as well and we want to encourage the parents to work with the police; work with the Welfare Department; work with the schools, because the school systems cannot work on their own. Many times too we need the community support. We need the community support because sometimes when we are looking for person to question them, whether it is the welfare department or the police we need the community support,” Mrs. Hyacinth further stated.

She also urged parents to look out for their children and to refrain from placing them in harmful situations.

“We are sending a call out to our parents. They need to look out for their children. Sometimes they allow the children to do things and they are encouraged to be in environments where they are harmed. And we had a number of cases showing up on the Google classrooms, including physical abuse by persons who are not even the children’s parents. So it is a challenge within society but now that we are using more platforms we hope that we can organize and continue the education sessions with our parents, with our teachers and with our students,” Mrs. Hyacinth added.