Officers at the Child Care and Protection Agency (CCPA) arm of the Social Protection Ministry are currently trying to assess exactly why the East Coast of Demerara has the most worrying cases of child abuse.
According to the Child Care Department, “East Coast Demerara has the highest reports of child abuse in Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica) and getting the cases speedily to the court and assistance for victims have proven to be challenging”.
In light of this, the agency said it has been working in the area to better sensitise parents on their roles and how to identify abuse.
Sources at CCPA were unable to share data with respect to the number of reports coming out of the area on Monday but described those figures as worrying.
It was explained that most of those cases can be linked to the fact that children are sometimes forced to do work by their own parents and are beaten if they refuse. In other cases, some mischievous children choose to stay away from school and are mistreated by their parents when they learn the truth.
In March of this year, the CCPA had already seen some 400 reports of child abuse cases with about 219 children being sexually abused.
Just a few weeks ago, the Child Care Department said on its social media page that it had responded to just about 60 reports in one week from various parts of the country.
In one of those cases, a mother had physically abused her two small children and put them out of the house. Concerned residents later brought the children to the CCPA and an immediate investigation was launched to locate the mother and other family members.
The mother, once found, was interviewed by officers at the CCPA who said she was nonchalant towards the whole situation. It was, therefore, determined by senior staff, that leaving the children with their mother was clearly putting them at risk so the children were placed with a family member while a thorough assessment of their circumstances could be carried out.
In the meantime, ChildLink, an activist group, said in a recently released report that a total of 4179 children were abused in 2017 with child sexual abuse accounting for 841 or 20 per cent of those cases. Moreover, in a three-year period, from 2014 to 2017, there has been an increase of 5 per cent of reported child sexual abuse cases.
In December, the CCPA revealed that two children are abused every hour in Guyana.
According to the agency, by the end of October 2018, it had already responded to 4352 child abuse reports, which happens to be the highest number of reported cases ever for the period.
In fact, a 25.4 per cent increase was recorded when compared with figures for the same period in 2017.