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Child Abuse Prevention Month launched

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Serious issues: organisers of the Child Abuse Prevention month stand together after the reading of the proclamation on the City Hall steps (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Bermuda’s residents are being urged to dedicate this month to improving the quality of life for all children and families.

In proclaiming Child Abuse Prevention Month, Nandi Outerbridge revealed that the Department of Child and Family Services received 1,011 reports of child abuse and neglect last year, with cases of sexual abuse on the rise.

“Child abuse and neglect is a serious problem that affects every segment of our community, and in order for us to find solutions there must be input and action from every member of our community,” the Minister of Social Development and Sports said. “Child abuse can have long-term psychological, emotional and physical effects that can have lifelong consequences for victims of abuse.

“Effective child abuse prevention campaigns succeed because of meaningful connections and partnerships that are created between the Department of Child and Family Services, education, health, police, community clubs and faith-based organisations who provide a collaborative preventive approach.”

She added that communities must make every effort to promote programmes and activities that benefit children and their families, noting that prevention remains the best defence for our children and families.

“All citizens are urged to recognise this month by dedicating ourselves to improving the quality of life for all children and families in our community.”

Michael Weeks, the Shadow Minister of Sports and Social Development, added that children of all races and ethnicity experience child abuse and “Bermuda is no exception”.

“We are reminded that it is our duty to care for the vulnerable among us, especially our children. The care and protection of children is the responsibility of our entire community.”

He added that the impact of abuse is far greater than its immediate, visible effects.

“The goal of child abuse prevention is to stop any child from being abused or neglected. It must also be our mission to save our children and our families from the emotional and physical trauma associated with abuse, thus decreasing the need for costly intervention and treatment services.”

Mr Weeks added that providing families with support and the necessary skills and resources is one of the ways to prevent abuse.

He also commended the work of child abuse prevention charity Saving Children and Revealing Secrets, adding that “this invaluable programme is bringing the issue from darkness to light”.

Furthermore, he praised the work of social workers and the Department of Child and Family Services, who “advocate for abused and neglected children on a daily basis”.

The event at City Hall was opened by town crier Ed Christopher and Mayor Charles Gosling welcomed the crowd and commended the Department of Child and Family Services “on their determination to properly address this problem and strive to ensure the safety of our children”.

He added: “Our children are our future society and we have a duty to educate and to prepare them for that future free of the generational burdens that abuse can produce.”

Creative Touch Home Nursery and Preschool students performed a nursery rhyme recital, while United Dance Productions and Bermuda Idol winner Ariana Smith showcased their skills.

Nandi Outerbridge, Minister of Social Development and Sports (Photograph by Akil Simmons)