The Coalition for the Protection of Children (CPC) has launched a social media campaign urging the community to use the hashtags #ProtectOurGirls, #13IsAChild, and #SheIsMe to “show solidarity in protecting young girls in Bermuda”.

A spokesperson said: “The CPC views the outrageous statements regarding underage children ‘seducing older men’ as incomprehensible insolence towards our minors.

“These comments and attitudes on social media dismissing a 13-year-old as sexual predator, highlight much bigger issues in our country. How we treat statutory rape, victim shaming, and the oversexualizing of young girls in Bermuda, should be seen as a clarion call to action.

“How and why we continue to defend this behaviour while blaming young victims indicates a deeper fracture that must be addressed. These are our children, and it is our job, as adults, to keep them safe. Not only should minors be protected from predators, but they should certainly be protected from the criminalization of being a victim.

“As a community, we encourage young people to speak up when they have been harmed, but proceed to vilify them when they do. This is completely unacceptable! It takes an incredible amount of bravery to come forward and seek justice.

“We must be supportive and gently guide our youth through this process. However, we often see more incidences of shaming, in particular when it comes to female victims. We need to reject the abhorrent nature of hyper sexualizing our young girls as a community.

“We should not have to reiterate that a 13-year-old constitutes a child. This should not even be a question.

“Ultimately, we need to stand together and agree on what we should value in this country. If we are not willing to fight for the next generation, we will certainly reap what we sow with further harm to society.

“We did seek permission from National Security to hold an outdoor event of possibly over 50 people to stand up for the protection of our young girls. Though that was not approved, we are asking our community to tag and share the attached graphic on Monday, July 13th to show solidarity in protecting young girls here in Bermuda.”