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Prevent child abuse ‘Break the Silence’ campaign begins

Prevent child abuse ‘Break the Silence’ campaign begins

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St Vincent and the Grenadines has embarked on a campaign dubbed “Break the Silence,” in an effort to raise awareness of, and to prevent child abuse.{{more}}

The campaign, which has already been launched on a global scale, was launched in St Vincent and the Grenadines last Friday, through the partnership of the Ministry of National Mobilisation with UNICEF.

Minister of National Mobilisation Frederick Stephenson explained that the campaign is a call to action to report instances of child abuse in a responsible manner.

“The increase of child abuse sexual cases has become a serious concern,” the minister said.

“This situation is often covered up, hushed up or shrouded in secrecy”.

He stressed that it is the aim to ensure that children are not cheated out of their childhood and that they enjoy the safety and security that is owed to them.

Additionally, Stephenson pointed out the negative consequences that come with child sexual abuse, including a breakdown in family, education and social life, but more importantly, the exposure to sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS.

While the purpose of the initiative is to bring about justice for and protection of children, Stephenson urged the public not to falsely accuse persons.

‘Breaking the Silence’ is not a license to maliciously accuse and defame the names and character of the innocent,” he warned.

UNICEF representative Elaine King described child sexual abuse as a silent emergency, going unreported in most cases.

“Everyone has a responsibility in addressing this issue,” she said.

“Too often, we have treated child abuse as taboo subject, but at same time there is an issue of social tolerance…people know, but fail to act”.

King highlighted that approximately 40 per cent of sexual abuse cases go unreported in the Eastern Caribbean and urged persons in St Vincent and the Grenadines to speak out against these cases, as everyone has a part to play in protecting children.

“There are no innocent bystanders. Silence is acceptance and silence is no longer accepted,” she stated.

In her remarks, Permanent Secretary Jasmine Hull noted that as part of the sensitization process, conferences and a series of events have taken place in the rural areas.

She stated that the “/Break the Silence” campaign was a further step to spread the message on a larger scale. She also commended the efforts of collaborating partners to end child abuse in all its forms.

A motorcade from Kingstown to Fancy will be held on April 19 as part of the “Break the Silence” campaign.

The campaign is sponsored by LIME. (BK)

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