Prevalent cases like Child Abuse have been a focus in Grand Bahama for a while, and the leaders at the Youth Sports & Culture Leaders Certification Program had the opportunity to be educated on signs and symptoms not readily noticed.
Because of the eight-week program, which began last week Thursday, the youth leaders will be better able to engage, identify and approach all categories of youth, including marginalized youth who reside throughout Grand Bahama Island.
Youth Coordinator, Carla Brown-Roker gave her perspective.
“I think that the module on Child Abuse is very timely for Youth Leaders because in youth organizations, we have children from every walk of life.
“Many youth could very well be in an abusive situation, and that is why I think it is important for our youth leaders to identify the signs and the steps to take.”
Brown-Roker noted that If youth leaders are going to be nationally trained and certified, every scenario involving a young person ought to be exposed to the leaders and they must be aware of every step that is lawful.
Realizing that abuse is ongoing, Brown Roker said: “I also recognize the need for us to hold some workshops to delve into the topic even greater. So, very early in the New Year, our Ministry intends on holding a workshop in partnership with social services where we can discuss these issues a bit more.”
Keynote Speaker and Certified Youth Leader, Jaron Harvey who is now an officer in the Department of Rehabilitative & Welfare Services, told this daily that emphasis will be placed on getting a thorough understanding of child abuse.
“We will be defining what is child abuse, the various types of abuse, and how it is important for Youth Leaders to notice the signs and symptoms of children who are being abused. Also, I will be listing what is required of them by law, to report abusive issues.
“Child Abuse is an epidemic and it effects homes, families, and denominations because It is something that is global and not discriminated,” said Harvey
Harvey said when it comes to physical abuse, you can see bruises, a black eye and wounds, which are the tell-tale signs.
Pointed out though was the fact that child abuse can lead to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PDSD); it can cause depression inside children; and it can also result in mental illness.
“Sometimes when children experience these issues, they usually suppress it, just in fear of not breaking up their family because they would’ve been threatened, whenever the act would’ve been perpetrated on them,” he further explained.
But when it comes to sexual abuse, the Welfare Officer says it is hard to necessarily pinpoint the signs and symptoms.
“When it comes to sexual abuse, sometimes children act out by running away. They act out in school that leads to their grades dropping. The places that they usually love, now become areas they don’t want to be around anymore. Also, whenever someone comes around the kids, their attitude or deportment immediately changes,” he stated.
He noted that “during this day in time, Youth Leaders are some of the first people who have sincere relationships with young people, and are usually the ones who would know what is going on in a young person’s life.”
“These participants of the Youth Leader’s Certification need to be equipped with the resources and skills necessary to help combat these social issues such as child abuse.”
The next cohort of Youth Leaders Certification will offer classes in Freeport as well as East Grand Bahama. Applications are available at The Ministry of Youth’s Office in The Regent Centre and can be faxed or emailed upon request.