By Aaron Humes:A joint release from The Ministry of Human Development, Families and Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, The Office of the Special Envoy for the Development of Families & Children, and the National Committee for Families and Children (NCFC) reminds of the vile nature of child sexual abuse and the community effort it will take to stamp it out.
It comes after two reports of a male and female minor, separately in San Pedro Town and Belize City, reporting sexual assault. Police have identified and are pursuing both suspects.
According to the trio of agencies, “Sexual abuse continues to be the second most reported form of child abuse. Statistical data from the Department of Human Services shows a total of 220 sexual abuse/assault reports from January to June 2021 and 366 reports in 2020.”
The trauma, they continue, does not end with the assault, however brief, as there is still lasting physical, psychological, and emotional distress to contend with. The long-term effects on the child can lead him or her to display a range of negative emotional and behavioral reactions.
Citing the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the agencies call on parents to discuss the abuse with their children as studies have shown that such acts are often committed by someone they know. They also concede that the added pressures brought on by the pandemic have left some children vulnerable and that more needs to be done, collectively, to protect them.
In addition to the Police, the Child Abuse Reporting Regulations make clear that the Department of Human Services must also be told of every case of child sexual abuse, though neither alleged perpetrator is believed by police to be related to their victim.