(CMR) The Government said it is placing a renewed emphasis on awareness, education, and understanding of issues related to child safeguarding among the public and professionals.
A campaign over several weeks will provide information about how to identify signs of child abuse or neglect and how to make a report for the well-being of the child.
Government leaders have endorsed the concept that child safeguarding is everyone's responsibility.
The Hon. Minister André Ebanks, Minister for Investment, Innovation and Social Development, stated, “Our children are the future custodians of our country.”
“This campaign is designed to promote understanding among all members of our society who are involved with the development and wellbeing of children, specifically as to the vital role they hold in protecting children from harm,” he added.
H.E. Governor Martyn Roper added his support for the campaign, saying, “We all interact with children at some point in our lives, whether as parents, friends, caregivers or through our work. We need to educate and raise awareness that safeguarding is everyone's responsibility – we all have a role to play in protecting children, personally and professionally.”
“Effective safeguarding of children can only be achieved by putting children at the center of the system, tackling cultural attitudes to abuse and by every individual and agency playing their full part, working together to meet the needs of our most vulnerable,” Mr. Roper said.
Deputy Governor Franz Manderson also endorsed the effort, saying, “In the Cayman Islands, our laws and policy support a robust ‘child safeguarding' framework based on global standards to protect children, young adults, and other vulnerable people who lack the ability to advocate for themselves.”
He continued, “This framework is designed to evolve as new challenges emerge in society, to ensure that we respond accordingly – with the utmost priority being that children remain protected.”
Legislation in the Cayman Islands (the Children Act, 2012 Revision) recognizes the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) as the department responsible for the welfare of children. The Act also provides the legal basis for cooperation between government departments and others to help DCFS discharge its functions.
It obliges all adults entrusted through their professions with any aspect of the education, care and welfare of children to report child safeguarding concerns– referred to as “mandatory reporting.”
Parents, family members and other informal caregivers also play a vital role in safeguarding children.
If abuse or neglect is suspected, confidential reports can be made to the Department of Children and Family Services by phone: (345) 945 0545 for Grand Cayman and (345) 948 2331 for Cayman Brac. If a child is in immediate danger, call 911.
After a referral is made, MASH acts as a central point, bringing together key agencies to consider referrals of children who may be at risk to identify the risks and respond with the most effective interventions.
Awareness training is available through the Cayman Islands Red Cross: https://redcross.org.ky/get-trained/
The Family Resource Centre also delivers child safeguarding training through its programs.