IN observance of International Day of the Boy Child, today, Minister of Human Services and Social Security Dr. Vindhya Persaud, has extended a special plea for parents and guardians to also pay keen attention to the well-being of their sons and the boys under their care.
In a message to mark the occasion, Dr. Persaud said that while girls often account for the majority of child abuse cases, many boys are also victims.
“I’m sure you’ll agree with me that the tendency has been to pay more attention to the girls and protect them, while we show less consideration to the boys. While it is true that more girls are abused, sexually and otherwise, let’s not be deceived into thinking that the same thing doesn’t happen to boys,” Dr. Persaud said.
She pointed out that statistics compiled so far have revealed that a total of 404 boys have been abused during the first quarter of 2021, as compared to 635 girls.
“The types of abuse reported include physical, sexual, verbal, neglect, and abandonment,” Dr. Persaud posited.
As it relates to the age range of the male victims, 110 were below the age of three; 95 of the victims were between the ages of four and seven years old, while 147 of them were ages eight to 13.
There were also 52 victims between the ages of 14 and 18.
“Our boys are hurting and they need us. While they are also groomed for sexual abuse, we don’t get them to talk easily about it,” Dr. Persaud noted.
She added, “I would like to appeal to parents to pay attention to the safety of their boy children, their education and the messages that boys receive very early in life about respecting females and using dialogue to resolve conflict.”
Dr. Persaud also underscored the importance of ensuring that boys are exposed to both positive male and female role models in their foundation years.
“Many boys have had to shoulder responsibilities very early in single-parent homes in the absence of fathers and this impact on their later relationships and choices,” Dr. Persaud recognised.
She also pointed to the troubling fact that fewer boys are pursuing tertiary-level education as compared to girls, and that this has created a shift in the workforce.
“The point is, while we will be working consistently to empower girls through the ministry, boys will benefit also from access to developmental opportunities and engagement as we recognise that they must be engaged early to counter escalating issues of domestic violence, crime, substance abuse, and unhealthy self-perceptions and coping mechanisms,” the minister added.
She said that child abuse is an area of much concern for the ministry, and that systems are being instituted to lessen the figures.
“The ministry’s Child Care and Protection Agency, quite ably headed by Ms. Ann Greene, has been working to promote more awareness of the issue,” Dr. Persaud noted.
Headline photo: Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Dr. Vindhya Persaud, interacts with a young boy during a ministerial outreach