Two child advocacy centers launched in Berbice.

Two child advocacy centers have been launched in Region Six with the aim of responding to reports of child abuse in an effective manner.

The centers which are located at Corriverton and Whim villages were launched by the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security through the Spotlight initiative.

Minister of Human Services and Social Security Dr Vindhya Persaud says the focus is to ensure that the services offered by her ministry is decentralized and easily accessible to victims as well as providing a space where young people can visit and feel safe to share their trauma and get results.

Only last year the country had recorded over 3000 cases of child abuse and so far for this year, the Child Care and Protection Agency has responded to 345 cases of child abuse with neglect heading the list with 154 cases followed by sexual abuse at 94 cases. It is for this reason that the service of a child advocacy center is paramount at this time especially during the COVID- 19 pandemic.

The Minister said with the huge number of cases recorded thus far for the year, efforts must be made to ensure that be made by citizens to speak out against child abuse and develop a culture to encourage children to report it whenever it occurs.

“We must ensure that the trauma that is experience, that is mitigated by what happens next because of the scars that will remain are lasting ones and I think with the child advocacy center mushrooming across the country and offering that alleviation of a scourge that has dogged not only this country but the entire world for a very long time maybe we can just make the kind of impact we want to see on our children”

Dr Persaud said the ministry recently launched the 941 hotline and wants every child to learn the number. She also encouraged parents to teach their children about the importance of the using the 914 hotline number so that they can call it and make a report should the need arise.

The child advocacy centers would serve as a one stop facility where the child would not be allowed to recount the incident more than once. The center will also provide the victims with the necessary support to help them overcome the trauma they would have experience during the abuse.

The initiative is being supported by stakeholders such as Child link, United Nations and the European Union who has committed to continuous support to such projects in the country especially Childlink to execute more similar projects in the future.

European Union Ambassador to Guyana, His Excellency Fernando Ponzi Canto disclosed that his office shares a close relationship with the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security and he is looking forward to working together to address child abuse and other social ills affecting the country.

“The European Union is more committed than in the past to support children and children issues and also gender balance and equality, we are committed because it is in our DNA. It is part of what we are and we are committed because we are all in this together and the problems of a child are the problems of everybody”

The launch was attended by the young influencers by the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security and the United Nations Resident Coordinator to Guyana, Her Excellency Mikiko Tanaka.