Human Services speak on uptick of crimes against children

Human Services speak on uptick of crimes against children

There has been a disturbing uptick in crimes being committed against children. In the past two weeks, there have been three separate reported incidents where minors have been sexually assaulted, two of which involved family members. On Saturday, a man from the Stann Creek District was caught sexually abusing his 12-year-old stepdaughter, whose mother and 13-year-old sister had left for church. The assailant was found nude with the child inside a home in Santa Cruz. He stands accused of raping both minors after a medical examination confirmed they were carnally known. The incident follows a minor reporting to San Pedro police last Thursday that her stepfather had raped her three times.  This, again, followed a case where a Belize City man was charged for raping a child. The instances have sparked outrage among many Belizeans and have brought into perspective the need for parents to pay closer attention to their children. Director of Human Services Sean Vargas spoke on the increase and what is being done to assist the victims. 

Sean Vargas, Director of Human Services: “For us it’s heart wrenching that we are seeing an uptick with what is happening right now in our society. Well every referral that comes in to the department whether it comes from the police department or from a relative or someone who just knows what is taking place the department treats as priority to go ahead and do an investigation and make communication or contact with those who are important to the system or the process of how the child protection system works. And so with what has bene happening we are definitely in touch with the key players and stakeholders who are responsible for the best interest of children. So once the matter is referred as I mentioned our social workers who are also trained, the initial stage of crisis intervention to help the clients who we come in contact with and once the matter has been settled then we do the referral to our professional therapist who provides the level of psychosocial support for everyone who is in our system especially those who are abused sexually.”

Vargas also spoke about the need for parents to carefully evaluate leaving their kids in the care of family members and listen to their children.

Sean Vargas, Director of Human Services: “Parents have to trust the children in terms of how they communicate and parents have to have communication with children. Instead of speaking down to kids have a communication with your kids. Especially those who are old enough to understand what’s going on. Having discussion with children and introducing them to certain things within society at an early stage helps especially for the component of trust. You have to trust what your children say to you and you have to trust and know who you are leaving your children with. I know that’s a difficult component for us to deal with because we simply sometimes just don’t know but we have to understand the importance of what is taking place right now. And so if it’s a matter of your moving with your children then that is understood. If it’s a matter of having that competent relative or friend who is going to be there for you and provide the level of care and support then that’s the route you go. But communication is very important. We have to know how to talk to our children and we have to understand the signs and language, what makes them uncomfortable, what gives them the point of them having wanting to refuse communication or contact with family members, friends, siblings and then we have to respect that part. We don’t force children to do things because it’s convenient for us you have to look at their level of comfort and that’s majority of what we have to understand. I know we live in a family oriented society but if your children are saying that “I don’t want to be with this person.”, “I don’t want to go there.” showing some level of resistance then you listen. You listen with a keen ear.”

Vargas noted that the department has been able to assist the police in bringing charges against parents found to be complicit in the abuse of their child. ///

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