Why isn’t more done to prevent child abuse?

| 03/05/2019

After reading the article, Teenage girl dodges jail in stabbing case, and seeing almost zero response from the community, it made my blood boil. How many organisations, departments, agencies, etc, in the Cayman Islands, the country of 60K people, participate in prevention and intervention in neglect, sexual and physical abuse of children? It appears there is only lip service. I mean, what is happening is unspeakable. Why is nothing changing?

Ask Auntie, CNS Local Life, Caymanian status

Auntie’s answer: I wish I could answer your question, even though I am sure you don’t really expect me to. Each time another case comes to light involving children being abused, living in a dysfunctional home or committing a crime, everyone should feel the same level of distress that you describe.

To say that these problems occur in every community is meaningless. Of course, abuse is not an isolated issue; no place is immune. But that does not excuse its existence. The fact that there are several organisations in Cayman dedicated to helping our youngest victims shows there continues to be a problem.

The Cayman Islands Crisis Centre was born in 2003 out of a need to provide a safe haven for women and children escaping from domestic violence and abuse. In 2012, the Cayman Islands Red Cross implemented the Protection Starts Here project, aimed at raising awareness of child sexual abuse; it also offers the Darkness to Light training programme on protecting children from abuse. The Department of Children and Family Services includes social work and child protection in its mandate. There are others.

But, clearly, that is not enough.

Too many people either refuse to acknowledge there is a problem or pretend they don’t see what may be right in front of them. The case that prompted you to write is heartbreaking. The young person who committed the violent act had suffered what was described as “significant sexual and physical abuse” as a child. I wonder how long that went on and if someone should have noticed and intervened. Or worse, what if someone simply chose to ignore what had been happening to her?

The agencies that are devoted to helping victims should be supported and promoted, but we also need to be making the issue of abuse a community-wide conversation. Unfortunately, I don’t have the magic solution to make that happen, but somehow we have to get more people willing to at least talk about this.

I agree that the lack of outrage exhibited by the low number of comments on the article is disturbing, but I hope you keep speaking up and try to engage others in discussions. How about signing up for the “Darkness to Light” course and bringing a friend along? We have to start somewhere, even if the first steps are small.

Nothing is going to change overnight, but doing nothing at all is definitely not an option.

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Comments (15)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I am involved with schools and am often in meetings concerning child protection issues. From my experience, the social workers are not fit for purpose. They don’t show up to meetings ( or are late), they need pushing to actually do anything with parents, the children need to be half dead before they believe they need to intervene.
    For instance a few years ago there was a terrible car accident and 5 people died including tourists. There was a Caymanian child in the TRUNK of the car! It was the school that arranged a crisis meeting, not the social workers. Was anything ever done to to protect that child. No. That child was a whisker away from death ( not for the first time in their life either). They had a chat with the mother ( again) and that was the end of that. If this wasn’t a signal for authorities to intervene I don’t know what was. It is so maddening!
    Also, apparently, it’s cultural for children to have to live in one room with many siblings and their parents, even when parents might be having sex in the next bed in front of them. That was another line I was once fed from a social worker. The goverment need to have a look at the tyoes of places that some children are living and build some decent social houses so they don’t have to live in squalor! Cayman is a rich country, but we do not help ourown people or children and it is shocking! Put some money into our country, help the most vulnerable! Train our social workers! Invest in proper foster carers so children don’t need to stay with their abusers! It’s not rocket science. Just do it!

  2. Anonymous says:

    In answer to your question, we….and in particular the Minister’s Association…are far too busy fighting the terrible “Sodom and Gomorrah” (Julianna You Know Who) evil caused by two young women who have fallen in love and want to marry each other. It consumed our legislators for days, got the craziest of ten minute babbling prayers from a bonkers “religious” MLA and some years back had a crowd of thousands turn out at the Lions Center to make sure that the world knew we believed every single word in the Bible, hated gays and were still living in the past of 150 years ago. How could we possibly deal with such minor issues as child abuse, spousal abuse, abuse of women in general and political corruption?

    • Anonymous says:

      Actually, the Minister’s Association is a big part of the problem. While their flock loves the public outbursts against gays as supported by their biblical interpretations, equally important (or probably far MORE important) to them is pastoral support for child abuse under “spare the rod and spoil the child” biblical teaching.

      • Anonymous says:

        Breaking news about “Mayor Pete” Buttigieg (Democratic presidential hopeful), openly gay and married to his male partner, being entertained with Christian love by former President Jimmy Carter. I don’t think our local professional political and ministerial bigots would have committed such a dastardly deed.

  3. Anonymous says:

    CNS thank you for answering my question right away. As we can see people either didn’t notice it or they really don’t care.
    But please keep the spotlight on the problem as you do it with global warming.
    This information needs to reach children and youth. They could make a big difference if they get involved. Their minds are sharper and they could offer many solutions. They could force their government stop lip service and start acting. I just refuse to believe that every person in the CI is intimidated by the fear of retaliation. We live in the year 2019. Cayman’ reputation could get seriously if not forever tainted once the world learns about its dirty little secrets as child abuse and domestic violence.

  4. Anonymous says:

    The Cayman Islands Crisis Centre just recently starting a new pilot programme called Kids Helpline, where kids can call if they are experiencing or witnesses abuse, bullying, depression/anxiety, etc. 649-KIDS (5437)

    • Anonymous says:

      Do kids know about that?

    • Anonymous says:

      Is this a free call? What about an online site or app or way to freely text, what’s app number? A lot of kids won’t have credit or a phone they can use to call the hotline.

  5. Anonymous says:

    UNICEF must be contacted to report violations of the Rights of the Children in the Cayman Islands.

    While the Cayman Islands is not included in this (see the link) 2012 report, it is time to add the country to the list of the major violators in the Caribbean region.

    Sexual Violence Against Children in the Caribbean: Report 2012 Prepared for
    UNICEF by Barbados and Eastern Caribbean Office. “https://www.unicef.org/easterncaribbean/ECAO_Sexual_Violence_againstChildren_in_the_Caribbean.pdf

  6. Anonymous says:

    There are so many society issues that just should not have room to grow on a small island like this.

    I think part of the problem is Caymanians segregating themselves and turning a blind eye to those that need the most help – as a society, the well functioning individuals need to be there to help/guide/assist those that are less fortunate.

    Another related issue is mental health – there are a couple of organizations on island dedicated to this however there needs to be a systematic government approach in schools and the general community.

    • Anonymous says:

      Caymanian segregating themselves. Which Caymanian communities have gates preventing expats from entering?

      • Anonymous says:


      • Anonymous says:

        Gates don’t have to be physical, 2:07. Broken down derelict vehicles and other litter/garbage strewn around the place, drug trafficking, loud music at all hours and stray dogs crapping in other peoples yards and frightening walkers on roads are ‘gates” that would keep any sensible person out and we have plenty of communities like that.

      • Anonymous says:

        The ones that won’t even look at a public school let alone consider sending their child to, the ones that ignore the member of their family that do not live in rich neighborhoods, the one’s that are more interested in preaching then doing anything to help

  7. Anonymous says:

    “Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub” MASH with eight social workers, a Health Services Authority psychologist and eight police officers [2017] was officially opened by Governor Helen Kilpatrick at a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Perhaps current Governor monitors “this big step”?

    Family Support Unit. RCIPS hired a team of U.K. detectives, experts in the field [
    2017] Perhaps Kevin Ashworth, the head of FSU would respond here or in a separate article? How officers coordination with government social workers goes?

    Perhaps RCIPS would make public the U.K. detectives review of the FCU and recommend changes? It has been 2 years already.

    How coordination between police and other agencies goes today?

    What Youth Anti-Crime Trust has to say on the subject?
    “There are too many persons who are working with children who are not trained in child protection,” [2016] Has anything changed?

    What is the state of planned amendments to the Penal Code seeking to create a host of new offenses that specifically deal with the grooming of children?

    Does Dr. Burrowes, who operate a sexual trauma recovery program for victims of abuse have anything to say?

    Does Dr. Sophia Chandler, a psychologist who works with victims of sexual abuse at the Cayman Islands Hospital have anything to say?

    Do Cindy Blekaitis, Camila Ferreira and Carolina Ferreira (Protection Starts Here group) who attended [2018] International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect’s XXII International Congress on Child Abuse and Neglect, held in the Czech Republic have anything to say?

    Premier Alden McLaughlin had said [2017] “As a society, I know that we are all concerned and appalled at any kind of child abuse. As a government, we committed to tackle this and have worked together to form this multi-agency group to address the safety and protection of children in the Cayman Islands.”

    Could all of the above agencies and people explain how this girl, who was born in 2003, was sexually and physically abused in her childhood with so many people getting paid to protect her?

    What kind of professional help she is getting now? She would need a lifetime of support. Anyone cares? Communities, churches, volunteers? Anyone?