Cayman teens facing violence and abuse

| 13/05/2015 | 11 Comments

(CNS): A report conducted in Cayman two years ago by the Pan American Health Organization and published Wednesday has revealed that local teenagers are facing violence, sexual abuse and mental health problems. 18% of girls reported being victims of sexual abuse while 22% had faced real physical violence, according to the report, which also found that around a third of teenage girls who took part said drinking, mental health problems, drug use or violence was common in their homes.

depression suicideThe survey found “remarkably high levels of depression and suicidal feelings” among the almost 1,000 boys and girls aged 15 -19 who took part in the study designed to assess the health and sexuality of Caymanian teenagers. Almost half of the teens reported suicidal thoughts.

The authors of the report said that 955 young people took part in the study from an available population of 1186 young people still in school in that age group.

The level of violence and abuse suffered by both boys and girls in that group was alarmingly high and almost 15% said they never or rarely felt safe in school.

Participants were asked if they had ever been physically abused or mistreated, with the physical abuse being defined as “when someone causes you to have a scar, black and blue marks, welts, bleeding or a broken bone”.  16.5% of those who answered this question had been physically abused. More than twice as many of the females as the males had been physically abused. The authors also warned abuse could be much greater as the definition of physical abuse focuses on clear evidence of injury and excludes abuse that results in only minor injury or pain.

The report found clear evidence of child sex abuse in the study among a significant number of the participants. With almost 50% of the participants admitting being sexually active, 5.2% of the girls and 11% of the boys said they had their first sex by the age of 10. By the age of twelve, 9% of the sexually active females and 21.5% of the sexually active males had their first sexual experience. In addition, almost 20% of the girls who took part in the survey who admitted to already having had sex said their first sexual experience was forced.

In its conclusion the report stated that young women and girls generally had poorer mental health, which the authors said was “partially associated with sexual abuse and violence against them, especially in the domestic space”.

However, boys were also found to be facing violence in the “public space”, which the authors said was associated with cultural pressures to assert “hard masculinities”, and boys were also under pressure to engage in sex with multiple partners.

Social poverty was also noted by the authors, with other 280 kids reporting that they had gone hungry over the past month because there was not enough food in their homes.

The report raised a catalogue of health risks for local teenagers and recommended that government introduce initiatives to “increase the capacities of families, schools and health care workers to enhance their emotional support and education of young people”.  The authors added, “Concerted efforts should be made to combat violence and abuse of and between young people. Such efforts should take account of the highly gendered nature of violence and develop complementary programmes for girls/ young women and boys/ young men.”

The general objective of the survey was to conduct a holistic assessment of adolescents’ health, with emphasis on HIV and sexual and reproductive, to strengthen existing services for young people and to inform the development of targeted interventions, while providing baseline data.

Speaking about the damning report in a press release, which was issued on Wednesday when the report was finally made public, Premier Alden McLaughlin, who is also the minister of health, made no comment about the shocking findings but said the recommendations were a priority for his health ministry.

“The delivery of the report signals the start of the next stage of work,” McLaughlin said. “This report provides a solid baseline from which government ministries and departments can now work along with relevant non-governmental organisations, in order to improve the state of health and wellbeing of the adolescents of our country. Enacting recommendations and initiatives based upon this report is now one of the priorities of this ministry.”

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Category: Health, health and safety

Comments (11)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    The churches are not to be blamed! The parents are to be held responsible! What examples are the parents setting for their children? Do they instill Godly morals and make sure their children attend church and they also accompany them? Parents that are having serious problems with their children need to start doing a self-evaluation and soul searching to see where they perhaps have failed as a parent and make positive steps to correcting that. They may have to seek guidance through a Pastor’s counselling however, your children are your responsibility. Set guidelines and structure is very important for your children to follow. Enforce the rules in a loving but stern way in order for it to be effective. Children need structure and guidance and if you don’t take the time out to implement rules and ensure that they are followed, then they will fall prey to negative influences. Parents need to know who their children friend are, see who they’re communicating with on social media and where they’re really going when they leave home to go to the movies. Make your children’s business your business and get to know what/where they are doing/going. Stop blaming the public for your children actions and your failures! Take responsibilty and make changes to you parenting skills and the positive changes will make a difference in your children lives.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Mothers and Fathers, don’t allow your daughters to have cellular phones/tablets/facebook accounts/instagram accounts. It will open the door for all such evil to enter their minds. Evil such as; introduction of boys making request for sex, so called friends influencing them to take part in under age drinking.

    Mothers and Father, we must be behind our children in a very positive way. Be on them like “white on rice”. Monitor who their friends are. Don’t allow them to do anything different than you did when your mother and father were bringing you up.

    I love my son and daughter out of this world and i’m not going allow these children of today try lead them astray. I was brought up with the fear God instilled in me by my mother. My father wasn’t around but wants to take praise for boys my mother raised.

    When school is out, I know where my kids are. but before I finish this comment I’m going to ask you these questions and if it doesn’t raise some concern, please evaluate it and sort it out.

    When school out in the evening, do you know where your son/daughter is?
    Do you know who he/she is with?
    When you allow them to go to the street dance, what is that teaching them?

    What are you doing to make sure your child/ren is going astray?

    Concerned Parent of today.

    • Anonymous says:

      You do not need to instill the fear of God in anyone. In fact quite the opposite. Talk to your children openly about sex, no meaning no and bring them up to have self confidence as that way they will have the courage to withstand unwanted advanced. Ensure they have hobbies, encourage them to bring friends home. Also raise your boys to have respect and use a condom.

  3. Anonymous says:

    What does the church have to do with this? Why must we always find someone or something outside of our own homes to blame for problems in our community. Pastors cannot help unless they are aware of the problem. These issues are not just happening. They have been long standing and many of us in the community know who the abusers are but we prefer to gossip about it rather than doing something to help. How about calling the anonymous tip line when you are aware of instances of child sexual abuse going on. That is the first thing to do. Call someone. If you don’t wish to get involved, then just leave an anonymous tip. I am sure the police will be able to conduct investigations based on that.

    • Cass says:

      Well if YOU know who some of the abusers are and won’t say a word then you are just as bad. I don’t know anyone personally but please enlighten me by telling me what the RCIPS is going to do about this issue? The one organization I did not mention was them because we ALL know they will do nothing. So yes, I call on all parents, teachers, churches, public figures etc. because these are the people who can make a difference. Further, in situations of abuse you should call social services, not the police. I was born and raised here, and my parents and their parents. You don’t need to tell ME how long it has been going on. Peace.

  4. Cass says:

    This is a priority to deal with. Not just by government officials but for parents, teachers, and everyone in the community. Mental Health facility where are you? Some parents are unfit to parent their children. Social Services what are you doing? When are we going to have a proper Mental Health Facility built and proper people brought in to deal with the dreadful populous of people who prey on young children. Where are the churches? Where are the so-called Christians in this Country? What are you doing to help these children? Community effort is needed, not turning a blind eye, which seems to be the NORM today. CAYMANIANS (my people): Open your eyes, wake-up. Stop shoving all your dirt under a rug. We are all in this together. Peace.

    • Chris says:

      “Where are the churches?”
      Every corner. Education is valued less than indoctrination and superstition. Read how women were regarded in books written by men in primitive cultures long ago, esp. OT and Quaran. I’m not at all surprised by these results.

  5. Anonymous says:

    The light cannot shine through unless the pastors in the community stop denying the problem exists, regardless of who the offender is they are prosecuted, the justice system is sympathetic to these young people, the Children & Family Services gain some expertise in handling these delicate cases and the community adopts a no tolerance approach. It will not be solved by people acknowledging the problem, it will only be solved by action and on this island action is something sadly missing. Remember your own slogan it takes a village to raise a child, well I believe it takes a village to keep a child safe.

  6. Anonymous says:

    While it is a starting point to at least be honest about the problem… this is all very sad. May some light shine in their lives and guide them through.

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