Protection of the nation’s children is the focus of this year’s Child Abuse Prevention Week, currently being observed Nov. 17-22 by the Probation and Child Protection Services of the Ministry of Community Development, Gender Affairs & Social Services under the theme “Thirty Years of Child Protection; Nurturing the Next Generation”.

“With the backdrop of the Federation being the first CARICOM signatory of the Convention of the Rights of a Child, we have shown that we can lead the way,” Mr. Gerald Connor, Director (Ag.) of the Department, said, noting the week is designed to bring awareness to the pressing issue of Child Abuse in the Federation, and the importance of ensuring that the fundamental rights of children are looked after, including their right to be protected from harm.

The Week of Activities officially opened Sunday as members of the Department enjoyed communal worship at the Pro-Cathedral of St. George (formerly the St. George’s Anglican Church).

Monday, the Ministry’s offices were decorated in blue (the awareness colour for Child Abuse) for the Department’s Open Day, in which the public was invited to come in and learn more about the work of the Probation and Child Protection team. “The Daily Tip” radio briefings, spotlighting important areas of child protection, were also launched.

Tuesday marked Corporal Punishment Suspension Day. Persons with children in their care were asked to refrain from the commonly used “beatings” or “licks” — which sometimes lead to physical abuse — in favour of other modes of discipline, according to Mr. Connor, who emphasized the Department’s desire to see parents and guardians use alternative and creative ways to instill values and discipline in children.

Wednesday, internationally celebrated as Universal Children’s Day, saw Probation and Child Protection officers visiting schools across the island to engage with children and relay information on matters concerning youth, as well as promote the work of the Department.

Basseterre is expected to be draped in blue for Friday’s “Wear Blue Day” to bring attention to the problem of Child Abuse, while the Department’s officers will engage with the public on children’s issues and the need to continue nurturing the Federation’s youth.

The public is asked to show full support for Child Abuse Prevention by wearing blue on Friday.