Cayman group hosts child-abuse workshop in US

| 11/04/2018
CNS Local Life

Cayman’s Protection Starts Here presenters at symposium on child abuse

(CNS Local Life): Seven representatives from Cayman’s grassroots multi-agency child abuse prevention team, Protection Starts Here (PSH), became the first-ever presenters from the Caribbean to host a workshop at the International Symposium on Child Abuse, presented annually by the National Children’s Advocacy Centre in Huntsville, Alabama.

The symposium, held 19-22 March and now in its 34th year, provides expert training to professionals in the child maltreatment field, and is one of the few conferences that addresses all aspects of child maltreatment, including but not limited to physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, exposure to violence, poly-victimisation, exploitation, intervention, trafficking, and prevention.

The Cayman group joined approximately 1,400 other participants from the US and 10 other countries, and were part of a group of nearly 140 presenters who delivered 150+ workshops over four days, stated a Cayman Islands Red Cross press release. About 30 people attended the PSH presentation, which discussed how the group came into existence, what it has accomplished to date, and how it can serve as a model for other communities and organisations wishing to set up something similar.

“Multi agency work has essentially been understood in one of two ways,” said Carolina Ferreira, deputy director for the Cayman Islands Red Cross and PSH coordinator. “On the one hand you have the work that is being done directly with survivors and families, like the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub or the Child Advocacy Centre models. On the other hand, you have those similar to National Safeguarding Boards which are working on a national level to come up with strategy and policy. PSH, however, offers another model for multi-agency work that focuses on prevention and education at the grassroots/community level,” she added.

The Protection Starts Here working group, which is spearheaded by the Cayman Islands Red Cross and comprises representatives from the Health Services Authority, Employee Assistance Programme, Special Needs Foundation Cayman, Ben Hud’s Wisdom Campaign, the Ministry of Education, and the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, has been working to prevent child abuse via awareness, education, advocacy and training since 2012.

The work has been supported by Hedge Funds Care Cayman (HFC) since 2013, and it was HFC who also provided additional support to ensure the group could attend this year’s symposium. Since its inception the group has been a collaborative effort working to identify gaps which to address collectively, and the impact of their work has gained attention locally and abroad.

“We have all gotten so much from this conference and this experience, not just for ourselves but for our respective organisations, our team and our community,” said Ferreira. “We are energised by what we have learned, and encouraged that we are moving in the right direction.”

Jondo Obi, director of the Cayman Islands Red Cross said, “This group and what they have done together is rather incredible. They have been together going on six years, dedicating their time above and beyond their usual duties, and their work speaks for itself.”

Ferreira added, “There is so much more that we can do here at home and within the region, and we will certainly keep aspiring to do more and better.”

To book a Darkness to Light course, learn more about child abuse prevention training and awareness sessions, or to become involved email the Red Cross

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