Human Services and Social Security Minister, Dr Vindhya Persaud has revealed alarming statistics, indicating that 635 girls and 404 boys were abused during the first quarter of 2021.
In her statement in observance of International Day of the Boy Child on Sunday, she noted that the attention to protect girls in the country far outweighs the response in safeguarding boys. While more girls are abused, Dr Persaud explained that the country must realise that boys also face similar abuse.
“I’m sure you’ll agree with me that the tendency has been to pay more attention to the girls and protect them, while we show less consideration to the boys. While it is true that more girls are abused, sexually and otherwise, let’s not be deceived into thinking that the same thing doesn’t happen to boys. According to the latest statistics available to us, 635 girls were abused for the first quarter of this year alone, but an alarming number of boys were also abused – 404,” the Minister expressed.
The types of abuse reported during this time included physical, sexual, verbal, neglect, and abandonment. The age range of zero to three years old saw 110 boys were abused; 95 for those four to seven years old; 147 for eight to 13 years old; and 52 within the 14-18 years bracket.
Through the Child Care and Protection Agency (CCPA), she noted that officials have been working to promote more awareness of the issue. Guardians were asked to pay attention in protecting their boys, in order to prevent these numbers from rising. It will also ensure that they receive positive messages on self-awareness, relationships and conflict resolution, to encourage ambition and healthy development goals.
“It is for this reason that the systems we are putting in place to deal with child abuse are for both boys and girls…It’s true that our boys are hurting and they need us. While they are also groomed for sexual abuse, we don’t get them to talk easily about it. I would like to appeal to parents to pay attention to the safety of their boy children, their education and the messages that boys receive very early in life about respecting females and using dialogue to resolve conflict.”
Minister Persaud said it is also equally important for boys to be exposed to both positive male and female role models in their foundation years. Many boys have had to shoulder responsibilities very early in single-parent homes in the absence of fathers and this impacts on their later relationships and choices.
“It is also known that less boys are pursuing tertiary level education as compared to girls and this has created a shift in the workforce. The point is while we will be working consistently to empower girls through the Ministry, boys will benefit also from access to developmental opportunities and engagement as we recognise that they must be engaged early to counter escalating issues of domestic violence, crime, substance abuse, and unhealthy self-perceptions and coping mechanisms,” she added.
The CCPA had reported earlier this year that 3129 children in Guyana faced some form of abuse in 2020.
More startling was the fact that high on the types of abuse are sexual abuse and neglect. In the high category of sexual abuse, the CCPA found that 688 girls were sexually abused, with 382 between the ages of 14 and 18 being abused at home.
Astonishingly also, is the fact that many of these girls were violated and abused by persons brought into the homes, especially by their mothers.