Brac rolls out child abuse prevention training for sports

Photos by Elphina Jones - GIS

A delegation from the Ministry of Community Affairs, Youth and Sports travelled  to Cayman Brac on Thursday, 9 February, 2017 to kick-off the first in a series of Child Abuse Prevention training sessions specifically targeting sports administrators and officials.

The sessions, which are led by the Director of the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), Mrs. Felicia Robinson, are being conducted in support of the recently approved Child Abuse Prevention Policy for Sports Associations. The training of various sports officials is a requirement of the policy.

The Children’s Law (2012 Revision) requires mandatory reporting of suspected child abuse cases from any member of the public and charges the DCFS with dealing with these cases. One of the primary functions of the Child Abuse Prevention Policy is to create a structure within each association to properly report suspicions of child abuse.

In the very detailed and informative training session, Mrs. Robinson sought to educate the sports administrators, coaches and officials on the effects of child abuse and the importance of the policy. These effects can include long-term emotional scarring of an individual well into adulthood.

She explained that under the law, child abuse includes not just sexual abuse, but also physical or emotional abuse and neglect of a child.

In each of these four categories, she provided detailed descriptions of what would constitute child abuse and proceeded to provide a comprehensive list of the symptoms of child abuse so that those working with children in a sporting environment could recognise the tell-tale signs of abuse.

Director Robinson also detailed the process through which suspicions of child abuse are to be reported to the DCFS through the Child Protection Officers of each club and the National Sporting Association.

She reminded the attendees that each Association must have a Child Protection Officer who is responsible for facilitating the reporting of suspicions of child abuse from any official or member of the Association, and who must also ensure that each member club within the Association has an appropriately trained Child Protection Officer.

Sports in the Sister Islands are coordinated through Sports Association of the Sister Islands which worked closely with the Ministry to conduct the training. Some 14 key sports officials representing a wide cross section of sports there attended the training and engaged in lively discussion with Mrs. Robinson.

In exhorting the attendees to join the fight against child abuse, Minister of Sports, the Hon. Osbourne Bodden who is also Minister for Youth and Community Affairs, reminded them that “Shielding our children from harm and the risk of abuse is both a statutory obligation and one for which all civic minded citizens are jointly accountable. We all share a profound duty of care to act responsibly, and with urgency in protecting our children from harm.”

Minister Bodden advised them that a lot of time and care had been taken in formulating the policy by the Ministry, the DCFS and the Attorney General’s Office to ensure that it would be effective and in compliance with the Children Law.

Vice President of the Sister Islands Swim Club and parent volunteer, Chevala Burke said that she found the training to be informative, engaging and relevant to many of the issues faced by children in the Cayman Islands and around the world. She added that the ability to address questions directly to the Minister and the Ministry staff was especially useful to the representatives at the training session.

Training is continuing in Grand Cayman for Association presidents, technical directors and Child Protection Officers from Thursday, 16 – Thursday, 23 February 2017. (GIS)

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