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Boys robbing to help single mothers – UNICEF

While criticizing Government for not doing enough to help single parent households in the British Virgin Islands, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said it has found that boys involved in robbery often do so to help their mothers.

“Several interviewees mentioned that some adolescents – mainly boys – accused of robbery justify their act as helping mothers who work long hours but cannot support the household,” the international organization said in its 2016 report – Situation Analysis Of The British Virgin Islands, which was tabled in the House of Assembly this month.

UNICEF added that the vulnerability of children living in single-parent arrangements is connected to the need for mothers to find work to sustain the family.

“As jobs in the territory are rarely permanent and secure, mothers may have to work double shifts in different places to guarantee sufficient financial resources. In single-parent households, when a mother – or father – is not home, children are at risk in different ways. A direct danger is that they are susceptible to being abused by older children and/or adults.”

“Various cases reported in the British Virgin Islands – and in the whole Eastern Caribbean area – connect different types of physical abuse to the absence of parents from home, especially during the night. Second, it was also reported that many of the cases related to youth in conflict with the law concern children who live only with their mothers,” UNICEF further said.

It accused the government of not doing enough to help.

“For a single parent, being absent from the house is, in most cases, not a choice but a coping mechanism to financially sustain the household.”

“Lack of parental supervision should thus not be seen as irresponsibility on the part of the mother or father, but as a failure of the state and the social protection system to guarantee safe spaces for children to stay while their mothers are working, and to implement policies that alleviate their vulnerability, and complement low salaries,” added UNICEF.

It noted that, based on the 2010 population census, single-parent households accounted for 13.6 per cent of the households in the territory in 2010. Among those, the vast majority (83 per cent) were headed by women.

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