Children being abused in institutional care – ChildLink report

first_imgChildren living in institutional care, within the age group of 10 to 12 have reportedly been abused by their caregiver and other staff; a practice that has not been denied by the Child Care and Protection Agency (CCPA).This is according to a ChildLink 2016 report: “The Nature and Extent of Institutionalisation of Children in Guyana.”The report stated that while caregivers have unanimously reported that corporal punishment was not applied to the children in their care, children are saying “yes” that they have been physically abused.It said that the caregivers vouched that disciplinary measures employed did not include physical abuse, but instead included giving children additional chores, denial of certain privileges, and having the child sent directly to the agency for intervention.One child told the researcher of the report that “A day (name of staff member) slapped me and swell me eye, and another time he just come and slap me behind me head hard and next time I was in the yard, he come and cuff me hard in me back.”When contacted on Tuesday, Director of the CCPA Ann Greene stated that it is a matter she could not pronounce on and would prefer if it is directed at the Social Protection Minister. However, she did state that the agency does not promote child beating. Instances of children being beaten were reported by boys particularly in both State run as well as privately run institutions.“That this could be true was not denied by the CCPA. They (CCPA) clarified that constant interventions are needed with caregivers as many believe that corporal punishment is necessary in order to ‘control’ children and ensure that they are disciplined,” the report indicated, highlighting that this trend needs urgent attention as children are removed from their homes and placed in residential care because of reported abuse.It added that “for them to be abused further while in the State care is an anomaly as they were placed there for safety and protection.”According to the Amnesty International 2015/2016 report, there is a high level of acceptance of domestic violence in Guyana. It stated that child rights are being infringed on with corporal punishment in schools still be implemented. The report indicated that this is in breach of the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child and despite consultations being held with the Government and civil society, the law remains unchanged.RunawaysChildren are being encouraged to report issues of neglect, abuse and violence to a teacher they trust. However, it is not uncommon that they would be taken immediately to the Child Care and Protection Agency once a report is made. This abruptness of being integrated into institutional care, a ChildLink report stated, has led to many children running away.According to the report “The Nature and Extent of Institutionalisation of Children in Guyana”, children find adjusting to residential care very difficult and may sometimes run away.The study has revealed that 69 per cent of children had been in residential care between one to 15 years, positing that the average length of time children in the sample spent in residential care is four years.Child Counsellor Abbigale Loncke in an invited comment told Guyana Times that children are not supposed to be institutionalised for more than two years. She noted that after the period of two years, if children remain institutionalised, their social skills surrounding the family setting starts to diminish.It highlighted that when caregivers were interviewed they divulged that children ‘run away’ because they are not prepared by their parents or the CCPA for being placed in residential care.However, ChildLink found that in such cases, placement was based on a crisis in the family such as loss of employment, disaster, or death. “As such, the child was a lot more open and amenable to this change,” it said.Thus, it recommended that all children should go through an initial conversation which must establish why they are being placed in residential care. And that at every step it must be pointed out that their “safety, care and protection are of paramount importance and the attempt is to ensure one or all of these”.It also suggested that there should be some form of dialogue between the residential facility and the CCPA before a child’s admission so that an informed response based on the particular needs of the child could be provided.“There is a grave need for sensitisation of children in residential care as to their rights and responsibilities. For instance, the young adults in care, who participated in this study, were not aware that they were free to leave and return home,” it added.Once the child, who ran away, is found by the CCPA, the matter would be placed before the court and the child would be reassigned to another facility.last_img read more