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Centre being set up to address needs of sexually abused children

Minister Jennifer Webster (third from left) is flanked by the other signatories to the MoU.

(GINA) A new facility is to be established to make it easier to prosecute perpetrators who commit sexual abuse of children and to cater for the recovery of victims.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed on Thursday formalising a partnership among the Child Care and Protection Agency, Forward Guyana and Child Link with regards to the establishment of the first ‘One Stop Centre’ for victims of child sexual abuse in Guyana.

Signing the document at the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security were Minister Jennifer Webster, Head of Child Care and Protection Agency Ann Greene, Director of Forward Guyana Chantelle Haynes and Director of Child Link, Reverend Dr. Kwame Gilbert.

Greene explained that the aim was to ensure an integrated approach to addressing child abuse by putting in one place the representatives from the many units; that is, law enforcement, child protection, prosecution care, mental health, and medical and victim care.

She added that they would work together to make decisions about investigation, treatment, management and prosecution of child abuse cases.

“The whole purpose is to bring together collaborative partners in child protection services and child advocacy for a coordinated response to better serve abused children, and even to prevent abuse,” she said.

According to Greene, the establishment of the One Stop Centre would effectively lessen the number of children falling through the cracks in the system.

It will also avoid duplication, especially as it relates to the abused victims providing a report on the incident. “A child could tell the hurt one time to all the parties concerned, that interview will be recorded and it could be used later on in court and so on,” she said.

The centre will also provide follow-up services to the child.

Forward Guyana has been able to raise funds for the first year of operation of the Centre from the Guyanese Diaspora, Haynes said, and that it has also gotten support from companies like Digicel, Wartsila (Guyana), National Hardware and Starcomm to furnish the centre.

Reverend Gilbert explained that their role in the partnership was to provide psychological and social support for the Centre’s operations. It committed to providing counsellors and to support education for those persons who would be involved in the operation for the first year.

The signing of the MoU forms part of the activities to mark Child Protection Week which is being observed under the theme, “Joining Hands for effective Child Protection Services.”