January 20, 2021
Last evening, I was alerted to a video that is in circulation purporting to be children being abused at one of our Children’s Homes. As a matter of fact, it was suggested that it was the Children’s Emergency Hostel.
As a result of that, I caused some preliminary inquiries to be done and those inquiries suggested to me that it was necessary to launch a full investigation and so that investigation commenced this morning. I want to make it clear, that in no way, form, or fashion, do we support any form of abuse and/or violence against children and/or adults – be they girls, boys, men and/or women.
As the Minister responsible for the eight Children’s Homes, with approximately 150 children throughout the Commonwealth of The Bahamas -- including Grand Bahama and Cat Island, it is my job to ensure that those children enjoy the full safety, comfort and security that the State has to offer and so I want to assure the members of the public who would have seen the videos, who out of concern would have shared them with me, that I am on the job as it relates to this matter. I also want to thank all of those persons who would have expressed genuine concern, and to reassure the public that this matter will be properly investigated, that it will be impartially investigated.
I have spoken with the Chairman of the Board at the Children’s Emergency Hostel and we are on the same page. Even prior to this, we have been having regular meetings trying to put together Management Agreements because you may appreciate that not all of these Homes are owned by the Government, many of them we are partnering with, but notwithstanding that fact, the welfare of the children is ours, the children are our children and so we want to ensure that in those Management Agreements, there is a protocol for discipline and that there is a distinct difference between discipline and abuse and that is where we draw the line.
I further want to assure the members of the general public that we will leave no stones unturned and we will let the chips fall where they may and at the end of the day, as I came forward to you this morning, I will come back and update them on what has transpired.
The investigation was initially launched by the National Child Protection Council and if it warrants anything more, we will go wherever we have to go to ensure that it is clearly understood that we will not accept any kind of abuse towards our children. If someone is culpable, the chips will fall where they may.