One of the on-going implied functions of the Board is to improve the circumstances of children in Barbados. To this end, there was consistent lobbying over the years to relevant ministries for changes and improvements in the legislation affecting:
- sanctioning of parents or guardians who refuse to co-operate with the Child Care Board or the Police Department (its aim is to break the conspiracy of silence which is so common in child abuse)
- using a multi-disciplinary approach to treatment
- reviewing of care orders
From the inception of the Child Abuse Unit, the Board has engaged in educational programmes to increase public awareness and to sensitize the general public to the problems of child abuse. As with any coordinated and aggressive promotional drive, there was an apparent increase in the number of child abuse referrals to the Department.
A child abuse register was started during 1983 -1984 to keep a record of cases referred to the Department, and to monitor trends in the area of child abuse. The Board works closely with the Police Department on matters where legal proceedings are brought against perpetrators. Training has been an integral part of this programme. In-service training is conducted to help officers become more familiar with the problems of child abuse and with its legislation, as well as to help them to develop their ability to identify and to conceptualize these problems. The Board is also looking at new and innovative ways of dealing with the treatment and prevention of child abuse and neglect.
Child abuse is any action by another person – adult (parent/caregiver) or child – that causes significant harm to a child. It can be physical, sexual or emotional, but can just as often be a lack of love, care and attention. A caregiver may fail to act and cause injury, death or emotional harm or risk of serious harm to a child. Neglect, whatever form it takes, can be just as damaging to a child as physical abuse
- Social dysfunction within the family system
- Domestic violence situation
- Use of illegal drugs and alcohol are contributing factors
- Inadequate understanding of the child’s developmental age