Statistics have shown a decrease in the number of reported cases of child sexual abuse in the BVI for 2017.
Head of Family Children and Protective Services at the Social Development Department, Laurel Freeman said there were 15 reported cases of child sexual abuse in the territory last year.
Compared to 2016 – which had 27 reports – the BVI saw a 45 percent drop in child sexual abuse reports for 2017.
In 2015, there were a total of 32 reported cases. Five of those cases were against boys.
Freeman said the statistics could mean the department’s Break the Silence campaign was effective.
The campaign was intended to bring awareness to the growing epidemic of child abuse in the territory.
“I am theorizing, that because of the awareness that we garner during this time, persons are aware of the signs of what child abuse is, what to look for, and who to report to,” Freeman told BVI News.
“So, based on the figures, it could mean one or two things: persons are getting the message that we are not going to tolerate incidences of child abuse, or the message we have been honing over the years in terms of ‘report, report, report – you can do it anonymously’ … persons are getting that message and getting reports to us.”
In other forms of abuse recorded last year, Freeman said there were 14 reported cases of neglect last year – eight involved females and six involved males.
There were also seven reported cases of physical abuse, one of which was a female.
Freeman told BVI News there were also two reported cases of verbal abuse – one male and one female.
She said her department will be launching another campaign this year called ‘Pinwheels for Prevention’.
Freeman said the campaign is intended to be a holistic approach to focus on all types of abuse.
“What we find when we go to the schools and the different organizations that we speak to – persons are fully aware of what constitutes sexual abuse. But when we talk about the other types, they are not so familiar with the signs and the symptoms,” she said.
Movie night fundraiser
Meanwhile, a family movie night is one of the main activities planned for Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness Month in April.
The movie night is scheduled for 6pm on Saturday (April 7) at Captain Mulligans in Nanny Cay.
Adults will be charged an admission of $5 while children will enter at no cost.
Proceeds from the event will go towards assisting vulnerable and needy families.
Freeman said Saturday’s film will include a message of child abuse prevention.
“We want to educate our audience, especially adults such as teachers, parents, or anyone who may have contact with children that they need to always be aware of the signs and that we [the Social Development Department] are here to provide support in addressing any case that may arise,” Freeman said.
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