The Cabinet invited the Director of Family Services and two police officers who are all connected to providing protection to children who may suffer battering by parents and other guardians.

The invitation was triggered by a particular case involving a young boy who was being beaten severely by his father, and a neighbour who reported what he thought was abuse of the child.

The neighbour actually contacted the police who in turn contacted the child protection services; they travelled to the home and the parents refused the officials entry, leaving the child to the mercy of his parents.

The Cabinet addressed the question of the sufficiency of the law to permit law enforcement to actually intervene in circumstances where the welfare of the child may very likely be in grave danger.

The issue arising was whether any action could be taken in a child abuse case when a minor is being severely beaten or physically abused by his or her parents.

The Attorney General pointed to the Child Care Protection Act 2016 Section 136(e) which gives the police the power to arrest.

It was agreed by Cabinet that there needed to be a cadre of police officers trained to intervene in circumstances like these, and that no amendment to the law is required.

The Cabinet held a discussion with the officials about an 11-year old pregnant girl who was taken to the Sir Lester Bird Medical Centre for fear that the pregnancy may endanger her life. The police operate a Special Victims Unit to treat with minors who suffer similar fate from sexual predators.

However, under the law, confidentiality is required. The name of the victim and the names of those who may have victimized the young minor cannot be released. Confidentiality then serves to protect even those who victimize.

One of the Policemen noted that substance abuse by children is prevalent, especially of marijuana; however, the law does not allow for random testing of minors; parental permission is required.

The Cabinet decided that a multi-sectoral group would be organized consisting of the police, Ministry of Legal Affairs, the Child Protection Unit, NGO’s, Churches and other community groups to study the subject of substance abuse and to perfect ways of discouraging youth from participating in this harmful exercise.

A number of activities were identified that have seemingly worked in other places where youth have been discouraged from engaging in this harmful behaviour.