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Press Release From Independent Source

Community urged to take action and prevent child maltreatment

The month is being observed under the theme, "A Community in Action: Preventing Child Maltreatment and Promoting Wellbeing". Photo:
The flier for child abuse month.
The flier for child abuse month.
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI - Citizens and residents of the Virgin Islands are urged to become actively involved in the fight against child abuse as the Social Development Department opens its annual Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness Month in April under the theme, "A Community in Action: Preventing Child Maltreatment and Promoting Wellbeing".

In delivering his message to mark the occasion Minister for Health and Social Hon. Ronnie Skelton rallied leaders in the community, churches and families to support victims and survivors of child abuse and said, “We must continue to work collectively to safeguard the wellbeing of our children and as your Minister for Health and Social Development, I challenge every citizen and resident of the Virgin Islands to become involved in the prevention of child abuse.”

Hon. Skelton highlighted the importance of preventative strategies in eliminating child abuse which included mentoring a young family; volunteering as a Big Brother or a Big Sister with the Social Development Department; being an advocate for child victims and applying to become a Foster Parent; volunteering at one of the Territory’s schools or churches to provide assistance to other children in need; or donating used clothing, books and toys to the local Red Cross.

Throughout the month a number of public outreach activities will be held in continued efforts to sensitise the community about child abuse and its prevention.

Chief Social Development Officer, Mrs. Annie Malone Frett stated, “By ensuring that parents have the knowledge, skills, and resources they need to care for their children, we can help promote children’s social and emotional well-being and prevent child maltreatment within families and communities.”

Research shows that when the six protective factors are present in family structures, the risk for neglect and abuse diminish and optimal outcomes for children, youth, and families are promoted. These protective factors are (1) nurturing and attachment; (2) knowledge of parenting and of child and youth development; (3) parental resilience; (4) social connections; (5) a strong support network for parents; and (6) social and emotional developmental well-being.

Among the public outreach events planned are an educational presentation at the Elmore Stoutt High School with the Women of Power and High Potential; puppet plays at schools on the sister islands; a puppet clinic at the Road Town Senior Citizens’ Centre; Awareness Mondays to be featured on the Almanac on ZBVI 780AM; an effective providers’ seminar for persons working with children who have been exposed to violence; and a panel discussion on the issues surrounding the prevalence of child abuse in the Territory.

On April 20 the Territory is invited to Drive Blue or Wear Blue as the department hosts this campaign for the second year. Persons are encouraged to display the blue ribbon - the official symbol of child abuse prevention, and to use a blue ribbon on their cars, or wear a blue article of clothing in support of victims.

The month climaxes on April 28 at 5.30am with a Run/Walk in support of victims of child abuse.

For more information about child abuse prevention programmes and activities in April, and throughout the year, telephone the Social Development Department at 468-3650.

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