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Barriere Bits, Issue #015 Child Abuse: Truths and Reconciliations
August 19, 2008
Welcome to Barriere Bits, the child abuse information e-zine that will provide you with international child abuse information.
In this issue, you'll find child abuse news from:
Earlier this year, the government refused to do away with the current statute of limitations (3 years after the abuse victim turns 18). Survivors of historical child abuse are outraged, stating that the government's refusal to abolish the legal time bar and offering instead the "truth and reconciliation" plan is actually a scheme to avoid litigation and the possible resulting payout of millions of pounds in compensation for victims who suffered abuse in state-run homes in the 1960s and prior. The government insists they instead want to encourage child abuse survivors to tell their stories and for abusers to admit their guilt without fear of prosecution.
My Comments: This scheme is offensive to anyone who has ever suffered child abuse at the hands of their carers. I doubt very much that many victims of historical child abuse would partake in such a forum. As for abusers coming forward of their own volition: not going to happen. Abusers are notorious for not accepting responsibility for their actions, even when they are confronted face on by their victims. The Ministers in this Scottish Government are kidding themselves and insulting the survivors when they insist that this plan will go forward. I agree with the stance of many of the victims. The government is essentially trying to avoid paying out hefty compensation packages to child abuse survivors who were left deeply scarred by vicious, cruel and degrading forms of emotional, physical and sexual maltreatment.
My Comments: I believe Minister Andrews is on the right track. Managing human resources in a way that will have experienced social workers making the emergency care type of decisions is critical to the welfare of children and their families, and so is prevention. But I question how it is that he expects an already taxed pool of social workers to suddenly become experienced. If the less experienced workers are to gain experience, they must do so either in the field or be taken under the wing of someone with more experience in the field. But most importantly, I question whether Minister Andrews can obtain the necessary long term financial resources under a political system that has voters going to the poles every five years, but has services operating under annual budgets that demand short term results. Minister Andrews has his work cut out for him if he is to get the government on board with his long term goals. And if he is able to reach his goals without benefit of more funding by strategically shifting human resources, he will be one highly-sought after businessman.
The statistical increase between the first year of operation and the first 6 months of this year are worth mentioning: In the twelve months of 2007, the Registry had 418 reports of child abuse. In the months between January and June of 2008, there were 1592—a near 400% increase in reports, with still 6 months of data left to gather. While child abuse is believed to be on the rise, this extraordinary increase is purportedly due in part to changing attitudes about reporting child abuse and the public's growing confidence that reports will not lead to repercussions against the person making the call. The toll free number for Jamaica's Registry: 1-888-PROTECT (1-888-776-8328).
My Comments: Jamaica's Children's Registry phone number will be added to the list of hotline phone numbers on my various story submission and story archives pages.
My Comments: While I agree that the potential for civil liberties misuse is present with this proposed expansion of the law, (indeed, the potential for exploitation exists with just about any law, depending on how it's enforced) the civil liberties of one group cannot supersede the rights of another. We owe it to our children to do what we must in order to keep them safe from predators.
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Darlene Barriere is a child abuse survivor, a violence and abuse prevention educator and author of On My Own Terms, A Memoir. She lives in semi-arid Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada with her husband, John.
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