MARIGOT–The Collectivité recorded 198 cases of violence or abuse against children in 2013, an increase of 141 cases compared to 2012, Second Vice-President Ramona Connor responsible for the Department of Solidarity and Families disclosed Thursday.
Connor disclosed the figures during the official opening ceremony to commemorate International Rights of the Child Day in the new public library in Concordia, adding the figures for 2014 will most likely be higher.
She was joined at the opening by President Aline Hanson, Préfet Philippe Chopin, Senator Guillaume Arnell, St. Martin representative of the Rectorat Jean-Marie Jespère, and invited guest Minister of Education from the Dutch side Patricia Lourens-Philips.
All gave short addresses on the subject of rights of the child.
Connor noted the above cases were filed with Cellule de Recueil des Informations Préoccupantes (CRIP), an organisation that deals with cases of abuse or violence against children. Children in danger can also be placed with selected foster families and 83 children were offered this option in 2013, however, 68 per cent of this number were placed by a court decision.
Children most affected were between 11 and 15 years old, victims of negligence on the part of their parents, who themselves suffered from psychological problems, or from physical or psychological abuse.
President Hanson remarked that many children suffer from being in dysfunctional families and, in the end, are left to fend for themselves.
“This is why the Collectivité and the State are organising the first parents’ forum on this subject in association with the Rotary and Rotaract Clubs in French Quarter on November 26,” she said.
Connor added for a harmonious family environment, parents have to understand their responsibilities.
Senator Arnell, in his remarks, challenged fathers to examine their consciences and ask themselves if they are really playing the role they are supposed to in the family.
Minister Philips said in her address while physical abuse is shocking due to the scars it leaves, not all child abuse is obvious.
“Ignoring children’s needs, putting them in unsupervised and dangerous situations, or making a child feel worthless or stupid is also child abuse. Regardless of the type of child abuse, the result is serious emotional harm,” she said. “We must realise that all types of child abuse and neglect leave lasting scars. Some of these scars might be physical, but emotional scarring has long-lasting effects throughout life, damaging a child’s sense of self, ability to have healthy relationships, and ability to function at home, at work and at school.”
She went on to explode some of the myths about child abuse.
In closing, she said: “The world made a promise to children that we would do everything in our power to protect and promote their rights to survive and thrive, to learn and grow, to make their voices heard and to reach their full potential, and as country, we must be committed to this. We must do our part.”
Following the opening, a debate was held among pupils from Collège Mont des Accords, Methodist Agogic Center from the Dutch side, and the Albena Lake School from Anguilla. The subject was Articles 28 and 29 from the convention on International Rights of the Child. Article 28 states “you have a right to go to school,” and 29 “you have the right to learn and organise your life.” Historian and author Daniella Jeffry was the moderator.
Activities continue with a sports day today, November 22, for all children at the Alberic Richards Stadium and in the Omnisports Hall, Galis Bay, starting at 9:00am. Afternoon recreation in the form of sketches, poems and songs, proposed by students in extracurricular activities, will be held in the Sandy Ground Cultural Center at 4:30pm on Tuesday, November 25. A play will be performed by the members of the Youth Territorial Council of St. Martin. – The Daily Herald