An article in Barbados today dated Jan 27th 2016, has led me to believe that the present government is even worse than our former slave masters. While it may have happened, I do not recall ever reading that the slaves were jailed for failing to report a crime in Barbados.
In the article under the caption “Jail for failing to report child abuse,” the Minister of Social Care provided information to the effect that persons who did not report abuse would be subject to imprisonment. He did not mention any punishment for the perpetrators of the abuse or the agency that he heads which has failed to act on reports of abuse some of which have resulted in untimely deaths.
It is very strange that the Minister would take this highway approach as a solution to the problem instead of dealing directly with the problem. His method of resolving the problem is to take away his and the Child Care Board’s responsibility towards the children of Barbados and instead lay blame for their inability to manage squarely at the feet of everyone else on the island.
It makes no sense and can actually make some people ignore the abuse if they feel that they may be subjected to imprisonment if they had known about this situation for a long time and did nothing. I wonder how this law will be enforced. How will the police know that persons knew about the abuse? What proof will be required that persons knew about the abuse? What if the person failed to report third hand information which they cannot substantiate? Can they still be punished?
In democratic societies it is normal for persons to report crimes. It is not normal for them to be jailed for failure to report crimes. It makes one wonder if this is Barbados or if the state is becoming like communist North Korea, a Stalin led Russia or a Germany controlled by Adolf Hitler. Can this law be an infringement on the rights of Barbadians? Is the intent to create fear?
Although the intent is to protect children from predators, it is felt that that the full extent of the law should be on the perpetrators of the crime and the said Child Care Board and not the general public. Yes the public must be encouraged to come forward and provide information about the treatment of the defenceless but not under the threat of being jailed.
The Minister has still not gone to the root of the problem which is to create preventative programs like teaching parenting skills, anger management or even extending the foster care programme. A system for routine home visits should be implemented with thorough follow up to prevent cases from falling through the cracks. Additional staff must be hired and trained. Any 24 hour society must provide 24 hour care for its children who are at risk.