Byer-Suckoo, DLP & BLP: A legacy of doing nothing about Child Abuse in Barbados

Updated September 5, 2012 (scroll down for newer items)

Madam Justice Jacqueline Cornelius complains of lack of mandatory child abuse reporting

Minister of Family Stephen Lashley lies to her, pretends something is being done

Folks, the politicians have been talking about mandatory reporting of child abuse for at least ten years that I can remember. About twice a year somebody makes a speech about it and the Minister says something is in the works. Today the Barbados Advocate has the latest steaming pile of cow dung on this issue where Madam Justice Jacqueline Cornelius made the speech, and Family Minister Stephen Lashley gave the usual bullshit reply – lying his head off that something is actually happening when he knows that is a lie. (Barbados Advocate: Lack of mandatory reporting protocol affecting child abuse cases)

That’s been the history of this issue and every time it happens we put the quotes and the story here so Bajans can see the truth: nothing has been done and nothing is being done. It’s all blah blah blah blah and the newspapers faithfully reprint the same story every time.

DLP, BLP government doesn’t seem to matter. Can somebody tell me why we pay these people?

The ongoing lies…

“The protocols are currently being protracted in collaboration with UNICEF, but there is a lot of work to be done,”

Minister of Family Stephen Lashley in the Barbados Advocate, September 4, 2012

“Government is moving to set in place a National Reporting Protocol for the Prevention, Reporting and Management of Child Abuse.” … Barbados Advocate, March 11, 2010

“Government is taking steps to develop a Mandatory Reporting Protocol to assist with the management of child abuse”... Government Press Release, March 3, 2010

“Child Care Board is in the process of developing a national reporting protocol for child abuse.” … Minister Esther Byer-Suckoo in The Nation, December  7, 2008

Child Protection in Barbados: The Need for a National Reporting ProtocolDecember, 2007 report published by United Nations Children’s Fund

“People wonder how come a 13-year-old girl is found to be pregnant and is taken to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and a report is made but nothing comes of it…” January 8, 2006 statement by Chairman of the Child Care Board, David Harper

Frustrated by legal loopholes that botch attempts to bring perpetrators of child abuse to justice, Chief Education Officer Wendy Griffith-Watson, is pleading with Government for “an established procedure that works”. June 12, 2005

“Government is taking steps to develop…” (BFP readers insert your chuckle or guffaw here)

blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah – Byer-Suckoo is All Talk, Zero Action

Once or twice a year for the last decade or so the Barbados newpapers printed a few articles on child abuse – usually around the time of the government’s annual “look like we’re doing something” meeting on child abuse. The news articles read the same year after year: Government representatives make a few statements about how important it is to protect children and (insert name of current Minister) says the government is “developing” policy on the issue to “move forward”.

The Lord knows that the good people at the Child Care Board and other places have been doing the best they can for decades – but they are hamstrung because no Barbados BLP or DLP government has seen fit to pass the laws that are needed to ensure compulsory reporting and a coordinated, effective and mandatory response to the abuse of children. Over the years David “Joey” Harper and his colleagues marched, spoke, wrote letters, gave interviews, agitated and did everything they could to make government act – but unfortunately the DLP and BLP believe that holding a meeting is actually doing something.

Back in 2008 (and just like all those government Ministers before her over the last decade) Esther Byer-Suckoo told us that child abuse was a problem, but not to get our hopes up about child-abuse reporting legislation… (Hey Esther… don’t worry about “not getting our hopes up”, we’re Bajan)

In our December 9, 2008 article Barbados Government Minister Byer-Suckoo Cautions “Not To Get Our Hopes Up” Waiting For Child Abuse Reporting Legislation, we said…

Barbados Has No Law Requiring The Reporting Of Suspected Child Abuse – And The DLP Government Will Not Create Such A Law!

Byer-Suckoo is talking about creating a “protocol” which is another way of saying that she and the DLP government do not intend to create a law requiring professionals to report suspected child abuse. A “protocol” is without the force of law. Medical and teaching professionals who fail to report child abuse will not face legal sanctions for keeping quiet.

There are certain laws that are now a given in civilised countries. Laws dealing with drinking and driving, wife abuse and child abuse are foundational to protecting innocent people – but successive Barbados governments have failed miserably to enact and enforce these laws.

The Thompson government is no different.

2010’s Child Abuse Meeting: Anything new, any real action taken – or just more of the Same Old Talk?

Now we see in the Nation and the Barbados Advocate that it is once again time for the annual “concern for child abuse” stories. The government has had another annual meeting, doan ya know!

And it’s time to make it look like something is actually happening instead of pointing out what is probably close to the truth: that nothing has actually been done or accomplished since the December 2007 UN report.

The current Nation newspaper article Child abuse protocol ‘a must’ says that Attorney Jacqueline Sealy-Burke has delivered “a draft copy of a child abuse protocol” to the Barbados government.

I’d like to be corrected. I really would… but I believe The Nation newspaper is wrong again – just like they were wrong in 2008 when they proclaimed that Barbados had developed a child abuse protocol and it was ready to be implemented.

When was Sealy-Burke hired?

Attorney Sealy-Burke delivered her report Child Protection in Barbados: The Need for a National Reporting Protocol to government in December of 2007 – but it is not a “draft copy of a child abuse protocol”. Although her report gives an overview of what such a policy would contain, it is not a detailed draft by any means.

The articles in the Barbados Advocate indicate that the report Sealy-Burke was indeed referring to her December 2007 report and make no mention of any new draft policy being delivered to the government – so I’d like to see this “draft” that The Nation refers to. (See Barbados Advocate’s Going on Record where the article refers to the 2007 UN report and not a new document)

The Nation article also says “ATTORNEY/consultant Jacqueline Sealy-Burke has been commissioned to establish a national child abuse protocol for the prevention, reporting and management of all child abuse cases.”

That’s the first time that information has appeared in the news media, so I’d like to know if it is true, and exactly when Sealy-Burke was “commissioned” to establish a national child abuse protocol for Barbados. Was she hired a year ago? Why didn’t we hear of it?… or was she hired a couple of days ago?

Once again folks, I’d like to be proven wrong about this latest “Consultation on a National Reporting Protocol on Child Abuse” meeting held at the Hilton Barbados last Wednesday. I’d like someone to send us the new draft protocol that the Nation says exists. I’d like to hear that the participants at the meeting were sent away with an actual draft protocol to comment upon and not just the old 2007 UN report.

I’d like to believe that this latest meeting wasn’t just the same old, same old – so if we’re wrong just say so and we’ll eat gull, apologise and publish the details.

Meanwhile though…

Think about this: If the Barbados news media refused to report government speeches about “going to do this” and “going to do that” – how many news articles could they print where a government minister showed that something had actually been done?


Filed under Barbados, Crime & Law, Culture & Race Issues, Ethics, Health, Human Rights, Politics

6 responses to “Byer-Suckoo, DLP & BLP: A legacy of doing nothing about Child Abuse in Barbados

  1. In start of item… What do 2005 and 2006 ref’s have to do with Suckoo? That’s another regime… Stay relevant please!

    Anyhow – Rawdon Adams spoke to a packed Grand Salle on 11/3/2010, heard the tail-end and asked him two pertinent questions, will have an article for the weekend soon with my analysis.

  2. cq8

    Ian, BFP’s article states that no BLP or DLP government in the past has done anything about child abuse and those 2005 and 2006 references back that up.

    RE: Byer-Suckoo

    she’s had the portfolio for the past 18 months so she should answer for her time because she is the most recent Minister. I don’t think bfp is being unfair to her in the circumstance.

    RE: your new article about Tom’s son

    I was unable to attend and want to hear what you think.

  3. Had a quick chat with “Rawdi” about his future in Barbados…

  4. Disregard that link, it is now inert (played the fool, had to show it who’s the real boss), please visit instead?

  5. victor

    A sobering thought; it’s well known in the rest of the WORLD that Barbados is a place where sexual child abuse and incest is “just one o dem ting” and child Aids is very high. You live on a small island far away but hello, your major earner is tourism! Eyes of the world are on you. Bajans, your entire society is under a microscope, get Googling!

  6. Mac

    As you say, a protocol is not legislation. This is too important a problem to be ignored. When young (12/13yrs old) get pregnant questions should be asked. When abuse happens to younger children there must be a strong network to stop it and deal with it.

    In developing countries child abuse is rife precisely because there is no framework of protection which allows it to continue and allows the culture of denial to continue. How many children are moved to live with relatives because somebody is “troubling” them?

    Child abuse is a huge problem wherever it is allowed to happen. If government & church/schools don’t deal with. How does a child deal with it.

    A damaged child grows into a damaged adult & the cycle continues & society suffers. Children deserve better from adults, both those who are supposed to protect them and the adults who are supposed to make the rules to protect them.