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Charity calls for unified response to tackle child abuse

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Sandy De Silva, executive director of Family Centre (File photograph)

A unified response from all quarters is required to address cases of child abuse, the head of Family Centre said after “distressing” statistics were highlighted by the Government.

Sandy De Silva, the charity’s executive director, encouraged members of the community to come together to protect children, as well as to support and honour the resilience of abuse survivors.

The call came after Tinée Furbert, the Minister of Youth, Social Development and Seniors, said at the launch of Child Abuse Prevention month last week that the Department of Child and Family Services received 1,006 child abuse reports in 2023.

Of those, 741 met the criteria for investigation.

Dr De Silva said the numbers were “a stark reminder of the pervasive nature of this issue”.

“The report of over 1,000 child abuse complaints in 2023, with a significant portion meriting further investigation, underscores the need for a unified response from every segment of our community,” she said.

Dr De Silva added: “Child Abuse Prevention Month is a time to raise and reinforce awareness that every child deserves to grow up in a safe, loving and stable family, free from physical, sexual, emotional and verbal abuse, neglect and exploitation.”

Family Centre is working with the DCFS to raise awareness and take action against child abuse.

The charity said its mandate is to “to break the vicious cycle of abuse”, the effects of which can last a lifetime.

Through its free counselling services and community programmes, the centre said it is committed to nurturing safe, supportive environments for all children.

It added: “The Family Centre has been at the forefront and an active participant in advocacy initiatives that promote positive parenting and protection of children and their wellbeing.

“We educate our community about child abuse, and we directly provide support to families in need.”

Family Centre urged parents and guardians to report instances of child abuse.

It said: “If your child is facing a traumatic event, or in need of emotional, behavioural or social support, we are here for you.

“We understand that it takes courage to reach out for help. Family Centre services are completely confidential, non-judgemental, available at no cost to families, and are open to all families.”

The centre urged residents to get certified with the charity Saving Children and Revealing Secrets.

It said Scars offered an award-winning training programme which teaches adults how to prevent, recognise and react responsibly to child sexual abuse.

The centre also made an appeal for people to support its cause.

Thania Redman, its relationship development director, said: “Help ensure that every child and family in need of support can receive it.

“Donations are critical for Family Centre to develop and sustain services and to offer our programmes free of charge.

“Your investment in Family Centre is one in the future wellbeing of families in Bermuda, for generations to come.”

For more information about Family Centre’s initiatives or for help, call 232-1116 or e-mail info@tfc.bm

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Published April 12, 2024 at 7:50 am (Updated April 12, 2024 at 7:00 am)

Charity calls for unified response to tackle child abuse

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