Public Health Communications Specialist
Ministry of Health/Social Development
Parents, guardians and members of the community are urged to arm their children with the knowledge to help protect them against sexual abuse.
Division Head of Children Family and Protective Services, Stacie Stoutt-James said, if there is going to be an end to child sexual abuse in the Virgin Islands, it begins with education. She said children must be educated on how to protect themselves from sexual violence.
Seventeen cases of sexual abuse against children were reported in 2014 and Mrs. Stoutt-James has reiterated the need for children to be educated on the proper names for their private parts, the difference between a good and bad touch and to learn that it is ok to say NO. She said children should also speak with someone they trust if someone is doing inappropriate things or having inappropriate conversations with them.
“Having this conversation is really important and could ultimately be the difference between a failed or successful attempt of sexual violence,” Mrs. Stoutt-James said.
The Division Head also took the opportunity to remind the public of their role as mandatory reporters.
She said the Children and Young Persons Act (2005) mandates any person working with children to report suspected incidences of child maltreatment.
Mrs. Stoutt-James added, “All of us have a responsibility to safeguard the Territory’s children. Children have a right to be protected from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation including sexual abuse, and as a community we have to stand together to get this done.”
The Social Development Department of the Ministry of Health and Social Development aims to provide the population of the Virgin Islands with effective social services that will empower, promote and enrich their quality of life, while fostering individual independence.