Federation establishes new protocol to address child abuse cases

St. Kitts, June 2, 2010 (SKNIS) – The Probation and Child Protection Services of the Ministry of Social Services and Community Development has solidified its commitment to stopping child abuse “dead in its tracks” by implementing a multidisciplinary approach to the management of abuse cases.

Stakeholders in child protection met at the St Kitts Marriott on Thursday to discuss the way forward on the implementation for a National Child Protection Protocol that would implement the new procedure for dealing with child abuse cases in the Federation.

Minister responsible for Social Services and Community Development Hon. Marcella Liburd noted that on July 24th this year, the Federation will celebrate its 20th anniversary of ratifying the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Minister Liburd said although significant strides had been made since then in ensuring that national laws, policies and practices conform to the provisions of the convention, the Department of Probation and Child Protection Services recognized the dire need to focus their efforts on the inadequacies and deficiencies in the National child abuse protection system. As such organized it organized the first consultation in 2006 under the theme: Advancing Child Protection: Keeping the Promise. Thursday’s consultation was another major step geared at protecting youth to the fullest extent.

Minister Liburd said as a result of that consultation the pursuit of a Child Protection Protocol was vigorously pursued with unwavering commitment from UNICEF.

Citing reporting, prevention and management of child abuse cases as challenges Permanent Secretary for Social Services on the Island of Nevis Mr. Alstead Pemberton, who was present at the event, said the protocol would go beyond the legal framework for dealing with offenders; to involving the role of the community at large as well as persons who are mandated by law to report cases fully.

He added that despite several legislative attempts to address child abuse in St. Kitts and Nevis, the plight of vulnerable children continues to be of great concern in the area of child protection. “Without clearly defined policies and a protocol to support their effective implementation, the legislative initiatives such as the protection and Child Welfare Board Act cannot operate effectively, remarked Mr. Pemberton.

He commented that police officers, prosecutors, medial professionals, magistrates, judges, school counselors and teachers should work toward the same objective of promoting the child’s best interest. He called on the continued assistance of the Probation and Child Protection Service Agency in St. Kitts to assist with issues specific to Nevis which include under reporting and lack of support resources for victims and their families.

The Protocol is designed to address all critical areas including reporting, judicial interventions, investigation, devising care plans, placement of children who require alternative care, follow-up care, monitoring and closure of cases.

It is expected to assist in establishing points of contact, methods of contact and purpose of contact between relevant agencies. It is also expected to strengthen and clarify relationships between child abuse response agencies and to finding professional roles and responsibilities as well as improving the credibility and accountability of agencies.

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