On Thursday June 14th the first ever conference on child abuse will be held at the Mike van Putten Youth Centre on St. Eustatius. The conference, which is a joint initiative between the Centre for Youth and Family, the Expertise Centre St.Eustatius and other key social organizations, will have as theme; “We cannot afford to do nothing”. The objective of this coming together of stakeholders is to place the theme of a child abuse policy on the agenda, linked with a collective sense of urgency. Commissioner of Youth Affairs and Education, Glenville Schmidt, will officially open the one-day conference.
Organizers are of the firm belief that child abuse is a social problem of all times and all societies. This is true for the Netherlands as well as the islands of the Dutch Caribbean (Saba, St. Eustatius and Bonaire). While up to date and comprehensive information regarding child abuse in the Netherlands is readily available it is not clear what the extent of child abuse is in the Dutch Caribbean. Therefore, this first conference is aimed at the exchange of ideas about the approach of child abuse between important persons and parties who are involved in raising and educating children. Additionally, the conference will highlight the definition of child abuse, its meaning and possible consequences for the children, parents and society. Preceding the conference participants will engage in discussions about child abuse. Mr. Stan van Haaren of the Dutch Youth Institute (Nederlands Jeugdinstituut), who will lead the conference, is scheduled to coordinate interviews with approximately 8 key persons who perform youth work or who are involved with youth policy on St. Eustatius in preparation for the conference.
“Reaching a comprehensive policy plan for each island of the Dutch Caribbean is the main objective. In order to accomplish this goal the following points will be elaborated; prevention of child abuse, how to take note of and investigate the suspicions of child abuse, stop child abuse, restriction of harmful consequences by offering appropriate help and/or protection” states Sandra Voorneman, Coordinator of the Centre for Youth & Family on St. Eustatius. The findings of the conference will be included in a first general plan. This plan will give direction to the next steps which will eventually form part a comprehensive child abuse policy plan for Saba, St. Eustatius and Bonaire.
Similar conferences on child abuse ire tentatively scheduled to be held on Saba on June 20th and on Bonaire on June 27th of this year.