1. Travelling Exhibition
Child sexual abuse cases globally pose challenges to the systems charged with the investigation and prosecution of these cases. Historically, there was public denial that child sexual abuse even existed except in the rarest of circumstance. If reports of child sexual abuse were made to law enforcement or treatment providers at all, then the reports were discounted and defined as fabrications or fantasy on the part of the child. During the late 1970s this perception began to change. Around the same time, internationally, mandatory reporting laws for child abuse became common.
In Guyana, in 2013, a new way to approach child sexual abuse cases was adopted through the implementation of a child abuse model developed in Huntsville, Alabama – the Child Advocacy Centre (CAC). This model brought the disciplines involved in the investigation, treatment, management and prosecution of child sexual abuse cases together to share information and recommendations for the best interest of the child.
Blossom Incorporated strongly believes in and supports prevention and awareness programmes on child sexual abuse and we continue to be appalled by the staggering reportage of these cases. Indeed, on April 5, 2016, Kaiteur Newspaper reported “Only two convictions from 19 completed sexual offences matters.” As responsible citizens and part of the community this alarming statistic should force us to become more proactive in protecting our community as a whole and more so our children.
Blossom Incorporated believes that children are the most valuable resource of the country and will play its role in protection of this most precious resource. The organisation wants our children to grow in an environment free from abuse, that will allow them to enjoy the beauty of their childhood and not one that promotes a predatory nightmare filled with abuse and neglect.
Blossom Incorporated sought support from the European Union and UNICEF and collaborated with the Ministry of Social Protection and the Guyana Police Force to launch an exhibition to raise awareness about child sexual abuse. The exhibition was an art display of paintings created by sexually abused children depicting the trauma of abuse as seen through their eyes. It was entitled the “Travelling Exhibition”.
The Travelling Exhibition started the conversation of child sexual abuse and violence against our children. The Exhibition traveled through eight of the ten administrative regions in the country.
2. Child Abuse Prevention Watch Groups
The “Child Abuse Prevention Watch Group” (CAPWG) is an initiative aimed at building partnerships with communities, identifying the issues and work on prevention by engaging leaders at the community level. These leaders serve as community watchdogs and provide continual protection and support for victims of child sexual abuse through their participation in CAPWG, which will compose of core members of communities located on East Bank Demerara and in Region 2.
Blossom Inc. has identified communities where these groups will be set up. These communities were selected based on the number of cases that were referred for Child Advocacy Center services and based on information received from community members.
Blossom Incorporated has noted that without community participation, primary prevention programs cannot be successful. Community members are best placed to know the community’s strengths and aspirations, vulnerabilities and needs. The organization also sees active community involvement as essential in developing genuine long-term capacity and sustainability. In fact, a common barrier to effective child sexual abuse prevention strategies is insufficient community involvement, responsibility and ownership.
Blossom’s Strategy and Involvement
Blossom Incorporated does direct work in the community by delivering the Good Enough Parenting programme and conducting Rights & Responsibilities of Adults on the issue of Child Sexual Abuse to community leaders. Community leaders will then be encouraged to identify citizens to also benefit from these workshops. The goal of this programme is to build the capacity of the community leader / parent by teaching them how to meet the core emotional needs of their children, and, at the same time, how to avoid the passing down of dysfunctional behaviors.
The organization also recognizes that child abuse results in part from stress and social isolation, the quality of communities, which can either encourage or impede parenting, and the social integration of the families, who live in them. Further, that both external and internal forces influence the quality of life in communities and any strategy for preventing child sexual abuse should address both internal and external dimensions. The organization will utilize a comprehensive approach to prevent child sexual abuse that requires strengthening communities and mobilizing all sectors of society including police, faith based groups, mass media, government agencies and private sector. As such, training is provided in:
- Child protection laws
- Sexual Offences
- How to perform child rights advocacy work in their community. To intervene when required and to coordinate with members in reporting incidents and making referrals for medical, legal or psycho-social services.
- Livelihood skills to improve the economic circumstances of families.
These CAPWGs is a crucial link between the grassroots and the prompt reporting of cases to national stakeholders responsible for the protection, prosecution, treatment and management of child sexual abuse cases and keeping communities safe.