Monday, June 29, 2015 Jahan King, 6 years old died of “unnatural causes” under suspicion of child abuse by his mother’s boyfriend. The grandmother of Jahan, Margaret Gill, has since come forward and interviewed with a local Barbados newspaper describing instances of child neglect and abuse by the child’s mother. She is quoted as saying:
“All I saying, and I would say it a thousand times, I blame the Child Care Board. I would die saying that I blame the Child Care Board,” Gill said.
“He come to school in April with he fingers [broken] [and] the school call[ed] the Child Care Board.”
While lamenting that nothing was done by the authorities to help her grandson, she said he had also “come to school with a bloodshot in the eye”, and again the Child Care Board was informed but to no avail.
“From the time the child eye was swollen, why didn’t they take the child or even if they give him to me, and put him somewhere where you know it would be safe. He come back again with more injuries and you send he back, which means you don’t care,” said an outraged Gill.
After intense scrutiny of a recent peak in deaths of young children in Barbados, there has been a move by the Child Care Board in removing children from homes where abuse has been suspected and investigated. The news reports out of the island document these details.
In memoriam of Jahan King, I’ve prepared this post and it is my intention that the information provided will be effective in shedding light into the darkness where child abusers thrive and hunt in Barbados making it known to them that someone, out there, somewhere is on the look out. For too long abused children have grown into adults and the cycle of trauma has spread into a generational life of silence that in effect denies the very existence of its’ own root.
Jahan won’t allow the cycle to continue. His broken body, bruised and twisted, is a symbol of the breaking of the chains of child abuse. The pain he endured during his years of torture as reported by his grandmother will be felt by a world of witnesses that are not bound to the lawlessness that has contributed to the numbing down experienced by the people of Barbados. The helplessness Jahan was accustomed to as a child victim of adult bullying and abuse is a reminder of the POWER we each have to act on the behalf of ourselves and others to PROTECT one another from harm but we oftentimes decide to “turn the other cheek” and remain neutral in these very instances where our POWER can be exercised for a greater good. Saving the life of a child is worth the risk and consequence that fear and indifference present as obstacles. Saving the life of a child is how we adults each got to where we are now, we survived.
We must learn to care.
I’ve reported on the delays in prioritizing the MANDATORY CHILD ABUSE REPORTING PROTOCOL over the past 5 years in Barbados. I’ve reported on how this neglect has empowered abusers and put children at risk for abuse. In light of the latest reports of the CHILD CARE BOARD removing 13 children from abusive homes, I would like to further reiterate why the PROTOCOL is necessary and how not having one has created the CULTURE that currently exists in Barbados. Shedding some light as to how the PROTOCOL is beneficial beyond the appeal to emotion that child abuse is wrong, my goal is to take a walk through the process of REPORTING so we can see how it all works together or in the current state of affairs, HOW IT DOESN’T WORK AT ALL.
Clearly, any attempt at implementing and enforcing a system of mandatory reporting will need to move beyond the Child Care Board to a full blown, state driven initiative that pulls in all the relevant government ministries and other state entities. via Unicef
THE PROTOCOL in short:
1. A MANDATORY REPORT IS MADE AND A RESPONSE IS ACTED OUT WITH ALL DATA COLLECTED, PROCESSED AND STORED
2. INVESTIGATIONS BEGIN AND INTERVIEWS ARE CONDUCTED USING APPROPRIATE INTERVIEW TECHNIQUES WITH ALL BODIES WHO ARE MANDATED TO HAVE INFORMATION
3. PROPERLY REGULATED MEDICAL EXAMINATIONS BY PROPERLY EQUIPPED, TRAINED MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS WHO ALSO PROVIDE FOR MEDICAL INTERVENTIONS SUCH AS MEDICAL FOLLOW UP’S AND TESTING
4. THE RELEVANT AUTHORITIES DECIDE ON AN APPROPRIATE COURSE OF ACTION (IN WRITTEN FORM) TO PROTECT THE CHILD BASED ON THE EVIDENCE. CIVIL AND LEGAL REMEDIES ARE CONSIDERED AND A PLAN OF CARE IS DEVISED FOR HOW TO PROTECT THE CHILD. THIS COULD BE A MATTER OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE, CIVIL RESPONSES AND/OR A COMBINATION OF BOTH.
5. CHILD PLACEMENT AND FOLLOW UP CARE SERVICES ARE CONSIDERED AND IMPLEMENTED WHICH MAY INCLUDE FOSTER OR INSTITUTIONAL CARE, COUNSELING, REHABILITATION, AND FAMILY REUNIFICATION MEASURES.
The identification of challenges is a crucial step in the development of a child abuse protocol. Without a keen awareness of the substantive and procedural deficiencies in the system, it would be difficult to create an instrument that is geared towards enhancing the overall responses to child abuse. Having pinpointed the gaps in the delivery of child protection services, it is hopeful that a protocol will help to guide the interdisciplinary responses to child abuse and facilitate the standardization of practices. A protocol will not, on its own, bring an end to child abuse. However, if effectively implemented with other types of interventions, a protocol can go a long way in strengthening the safety net for abused children.
What is a Protocol?
A protocol is a set of policies, procedures and agreements to be followed in child abuse cases. It is also a collaborative tool to ensure that agencies are working together without duplicating or overlapping tasks. A protocol can be as simple or complex as you want to make it.
• To establish standards for points of contact, methods of contact and purpose of contact between relevant agencies.
• To strengthen and clarify relationships between child abuse response agencies.
• To define professional roles and responsibilities.
• To improve the credibility and accountability of the agencies involved.
• To reduce trauma to children by improving interagency coordination.
• To inform and educate the community about how reports of abuse are handled.
• To ensure consistency in the way that cases are handled.
Why have a Child Abuse Protocol? (Taken from the Tribal Law and Policy Institute’s Guide for the Development of Child Abuse Protocol.)
• By defining the purpose and scope of the interagency co-ordination and collaboration.
• By describing the roles and responsibilities of different professionals.
• By defining the steps that must be completed at each stage.
• By defining the time frames for completion of each step.
• By having concrete and practical procedures for handling special issues that may arise.
• By protecting agencies from allegations of favoritism or politics in their handling of cases.
• By informing the community of what they can expect to happen when alleged abuse is reported. via UNICEF