Child Care and Protection Agency (CCPA) Director Ann Greene on Thursday disclosed that a total of 2532 cases of child abuse were recorded in Guyana between January and August 2019.
She added that with a head count of 2380 children, the CCPA has to find alternative care for 102 children. These comments came during the opening of the Children Centre in Sophia, Greater Georgetown.
However, Greene stated that “the policy is that children are only to be removed from their families and placed in institutional care as a last resort since institutional care, although a life saver for many children, has shown to cause a range of problems for children. Consequently, when children are placed in institutions, every effort must be made to get them out before they become institutionalised”, Greene stated.
She stated that in light of this phenomenon, institutional care should last for the shortest time possible.
The CCPA Director further stated that currently, efforts are being made to return children from institutions to their biological families.
“At present, there are 175 children in the foster and kinship care programme and the families receive monthly cash disbursements. The prevention of separation of children from their parents and dis-institutionalisation of children are priority programmes of the Ministry of Social Protection through the CCPA”.
Just a few weeks ago, the CCPA conducted a training exercise with parents to prevent child abuse, in recognition of the high levels of abuse in hinterland areas.
The Agency said sessions were conducted in two communities within Region One (Barima-Waini) in collaboration with the schools’ Welfare Department and other stakeholders.
On the other hand, another session was also facilitated in Agricola, Greater Georgetown. That training was conducted with support from Sol Guyana.
The CCPA Director had previously said that there remained a gap between what the law required and the innate culture of some communities as she was speaking on the attempts of the Agency to address child sexual abuse in communities within the interior regions.
“We have found that Region One [Barima-Waini] and Region Seven [Cuyuni-Mazaruni] would stand out in cases of sexual abuse against children. If we look at the particular regions, we have a gap between the law and the culture in those areas. That means that there’s the law that says sexual activity at age 16, but in some culture groups, there’s a younger age,” Greene told this newspaper in an invited comment.
She said the law works for all children and that is what the Agency has been doing over time. (Kristen Macklingam)