Sexual abuse accounted for more than 20 percent of the cases reported to the Child Protection Unit since January 2021.
“Every single Bahamian should be concerned,” Minister of Social Services Obie Wilchcombe said when called for comment.
“Every Bahamian should be concerned. We all should be concerned and that is why my argument is if we’re all concerned, then let’s demonstrate our concern. Let’s demonstrate our concern.
“It should be led by my ministry and my ministry will lead the way. We’re not going to pass the blame on to anyone. We’re going to lead the way in seeking to bring resolution or management of what is going on. Why are children being so devalued?”
There were 335 cases reported to the unit between January and October, according to data obtained by this newspaper.
Neglect accounted for the majority of cases with 115 reported so far this year.
It was followed by sexual abuse with 78 cases reported and physical abuse with 62 cases.
Verbal abuse, emotional abuse, incest and abandonment accounted for 17 cases.
Wilchcombe said the statistics indicated that there is a lot of work to do.
“It’s alarming, to be honest with you, and sends a message that we have severe national social issues that require immediate and absolute attention because we cannot continue to rise up when there’s an incident and then return to lax after nine days,” he said.
“The truth is, we must be vigorous. We must be determined and it must be an everyday effort. My ministry will move to ensure that all the legislation that’s not completed is passed to deal with these situations.
“We’re going to cause for many things to be put in place in an effort to get the matter under control. We’re going to ensure that we have a minors’ advocate.”
Wilchcombe said his ministry will begin to discuss a strategic plan to assess the issue and “move with haste”.
The minister and his team at the Ministry of Social Services have been assessing child abuse statistics following national outrage in the aftermath of the death of four-year-old D’Onya “Bella” Walker, who was murdered earlier this month.
There were unsubstantiated reports on social media that the child had been sexually assaulted prior to death.
Wayne Munroe, the minister of national security, said he has not seen any indication that Walker was sexually abused.
• Make sure to pick up The Nassau Guardian over the next several days to learn more about sexual offenses and the Bahamian criminal justice system.