JAMAICA: Parents responsible for child abuse

[GEORGETOWN, 11 September 2007] - Government officials in Jamaica say they are troubled by a survey which has revealed that parents are the main perpetrators of physical and sexual violence in Guyanese homes.

The government/United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) survey found that fathers and stepfathers were the most common perpetrators of sexual violence in homes, while mothers and other females were largely behind physical abuse cases.

The survey said girls were twice as likely to be raped at home than boys, with 10 per cent girls and five per cent boys suffering sexual abuse.

A senior Human Services and Social Security Ministry official said the revelations were troubling.

"We are very concerned about the apparent child abuse and we seriously want to tackle it," Ann Green, chief probation officer, said.

National consensus

Green called for national backing to help root out the scourge afflicting the nation's vulnerable population.

"We want to get the public at large aware that they have a responsibility to protect a child," Green noted.

As well as sexual exploitation, the survey also revealed that physical abuse is a major problem in the country; 33 per cent of Guyanese children have been mistreated by adults.

The study concluded that the majority of physical abuse perpetuated against children in homes actually occurred as a result of beatings or other physical punishments administered as discipline, especially by mothers.

It blamed the violence on alcoholism, financial pressure, and infidelity by a parent.

Of the children who reported being physically hurt, 16 per cent had been hurt by their mothers; seven per cent by their fathers; two per cent by both parents; five per cent by related caregivers (aunts, uncles, grandparents); and three per cent by stepparents.

Officials said with sexual and physical violence increasingly characterising Guyanese homes, more children were seeking refuge on the streets, with the number of male street children rising by 50 per cent, according to the most recent figures.

Further information

pdf: http://www.jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20070911/carib/carib3.htmlAssociation: Jamaica Gleaner

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