(CNS): More than 100 cases of physical, emotional and sexual abuse of children have been reported so far this year in Cayman as well as more than 50 reports of child neglect, but government officials believe the actual number of incidences could be ten times that. The Ministry of Community Affairs, Youth and Sports, which is currently shaping a reporting policy, met last week with representatives from local sports associations about the plans. Officials outlined concerns about the prevalence of abuse and explained the responsibility that people working with children now have to report suspected abuse.
Felicia Robinson from the department gave a PowerPoint presentation on the Child Abuse Reporting Policy, as well as the potential for abuse of young people in sports and the duty sports officials have for children in their care.
The Cayman authorities are currently in the process of attempting to extradite one athletics coach from the United States following allegations that when he was working in Cayman he indecently assault a girl training with him. And in 2014 a local man was jailed for four years after he admitted having a sexual relationship with a 13-year-old girl playing on one of the teams at the club where he was a football coach.
While sexual abuse is nothing new to the jurisdiction, changes to the legislation and more conversations about the problem have led to more cases being reported and ultimately more convictions. But officials believe that only one in ten cases of abuse are ever reported.
The community affairs ministry is in the process of finalising a policy to help meet the requirements of Section 32a of the Children Law (2012 Revision), which mandates that certain people, including sports coaches, report suspected abuse of children to the authorities.
Presenting the draft policy, Sports Minister Osbourne Bodden asked the sports associations to support the policy, which includes a codified mechanism for dealing with abuse disclosures, guidelines for mandatory reporting and screening of employees and volunteers. The ministry said the police would also be providing education on safeguarding children.
Robinson said local sports organisations need to ensure that officials are provided with the information and training necessary for them to carry out their duty to report suspected abuse or neglect.
Global statistics suggest that one in four girls and one in eight boys are sexually molested before they reach 18 years old. Studies also show that the average child molester may victimize 120 children before he or she is caught.
See presentation on new policy in the CNS Library