National Child Protection Policy will ‘build solid framework for victims’
Basseterre, St. Kitts – The Ministry of Community Development, Gender Affairs and Social Services, in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), held a workshop Aug. 14 to finalise the St. Kitts and Nevis National Child Protection Policy.
“The problem of child abuse and neglect in all forms remains a concern of the entire population of St. Kitts and Nevis,” said Gerald Connor, probation officer in the Department of Probation and Child Protection Services as he gave an overview of the policy.
He said the policy will outline the minimum standard for the prevention, investigation, care and judicial investigation of child abuse victims. The National Child Protection Policy will give an “efficient and effective framework to protect children who are likely to be victims of abuse and neglect,” he said, pointing out that the framework outlines the responsibilities for different agencies to follow when dealing with victims of child abuse.
He explained that it is important for the policy to be instituted because “too many children are being missed by a system designed to offer them protection. We must also ensure that children are not further victimized by an intervention systems designed to protect them.” He also added that “the gaps in the child protection system constitutes opportunities to rectify the situation and [implement] the development of a single child protection mechanism guided by a national child protection protocol.”
Connor stated that the protocol is founded on some fundamental principles such as the necessary reporting to the Department of Probation and Child Protection Services, the development of treatments for abuse victims, and the training and oversight of personnel dealing with victims. Additionally, he mentioned that the board overseeing the policy will also ensure proper collaboration with necessary stakeholders.
Connor conveyed that the department is working to finalise the policy and create an interactive website in time for the celebration of Universal Children’s Day Nov. 20.