Task force to tackle child abuse
Guyana Chronicle
August 4, 2004

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A NATIONAL task force on child abuse has been formed and steps are being taken to address issues relating to this phenomenon, the Government Information Agency (GINA) announced yesterday.

It said members of the task force met last week to discuss strategies for a sensitisation programme, with an immediate focus on informing the public about the effects of child abuse.

GINA said this is part of the children and violence programme undertaken by the Ministry of Labour, Human Services and Social Security.

The group will continue its consultations on the age of consent, among other issues and has been given a September 15 deadline to complete its consultations, it said.

Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Mr Pulandar Kandhi, hopes the task force can come up with recommendations that can be implemented, the agency reported.

The ministry will readily support programmes organised by the task force and cabinet will soon approve a budget to fund its outreach programme, it added.

Initial outreaches will commence this month in Kuru Kururu, Sophia, Timehri and Mahaica in Region Four (Demerara/Mahaica).

Chief Probation and Family Welfare Officer, Ms Ann Green, said child abuse is a social problem which can become an epidemic.

She told GINA that the task force needs to set working objectives and prioritise its tasks.

She added that the Ministry of Human Services cannot do it alone and would need the assistance of citizens. Everyone must see it as their responsibility to protect a child, she said.

Ms Hazel Halley-Burnett, a member of the task force, said it wants to see the incidents of child abuse reduced, but noted that there was still need for a working definition of child abuse.

This, she feels, will allow for a clear understanding on what type of abuse constitutes child abuse.

GINA said information on the other programmes will be released shortly.