‘It is time for the ‘Village’ to get a little closer’
Families are being urged to look out for their children after a series of arrests for sexual exploitation.
Patrice Frith Hayward, Executive Director for the Women's Resource Centre, said: “Unfortunately our young people cannot depend on some of the very people who they believe are protecting them.
“It is therefore incumbent upon all of us, to protect the young people who trust us to do just that. It is time for the ‘Village' to get a little closer.”
She said the group was disturbed by the arrests, which involved the sexual exploitation of nine victims.
“It is particularly alarming that victims stated that they were lured to locations by persons known to them, and in some cases, given alcohol and/or drugs before being sexually exploited,” she said. “We join the voice of our partners in sounding the alarm for parents to children that people are not always who they appear to be.
“We also echo the sentiments of Inspector Mark Clarke and the Bermuda Police Service for parents to always know where their children are.
“If that amounts to being overprotective, then let's be overprotective. This includes monitoring internet usage.”
She also urged the victims of assaults and their family members to report such incidents to the authorities.
“As has been stated by Sgt Sharnita Tankard, and as statistics show, the emotional damage can indeed be severe and have vicarious repercussions for the entire family,” Ms Frith Hayward said.
It is our hope that education will create more awareness and hopefully prevention of sexual assault and to that end, The Women's Resource Centre continues working to create programs to increase such awareness.
“It is imperative that we approach these issues from a community perspective because they affect all of us.”
Martha Dismont of the Family Centre meanwhile said Bermudian families are being faced with greater challenges than ever before, due in part to the Island's economic climate.
“This is not the first time that we have heard of this type of exploitation, however it occurs more frequently in difficult economic times, for obvious reasons, including the fact that families tend to pay less attention to the behaviour of their children at these times,” Ms Dismont said.
“It is extremely important to pay attention to what is going on in the life of your child/your teen in difficult economic times because of the worry and concern that parents tend to have about paying bills, rather than focusing on the needs/behaviours of one's child.
“Also, other adults who may be struggling emotionally use this type of exploitation as a ‘panacea' for themselves; a way to solve their problems and their personal/emotional needs.
“It is wrong, and we have to guard against it by paying even closer attention to what is happening with our children.”