Policies emanating out of the National Child Safeguarding Policy are set to be published online soon to ensure measures are in place to prevent the abuse of children in Bermuda.
Speaking in the Lower House on Friday (May 19), the Minister of Social Development and Seniors, Tinée Furbert, said the main goal “is to develop a national plan of action”, moving forward.
“We must all be agents of change and be proactive in preventing our children from all forms of abuse,” said Ms Furbert.
“The Government remains steadfast in providing our children with the protections that are necessary to safeguard them so they feel safe and can flourish to become productive members of our community.
“The future of our island is dependent on our children so let us work together to safeguard them now for their future destinies,” she added.
It was based on the agreement adopted in 2015, during a “meeting of the Joint Ministerial Council that the Overseas Territories should lead a natural response to child safeguarding to ‘reiterate the commitment to delivering a zero-tolerance approach to child abuse’, with the support of the UK Government”.
“To ensure children’s needs are at the heart of the safeguarding system and environments are created in which all children have an equal opportunity to thrive, a child-centred and coordinated approach to safeguarding children needed to be adopted,” said the Minister.
“This approach requires the collaboration of multi-agencies through the sharing of information and the undertaking of robust risk assessments.”
She also noted that “a National Child Safeguarding Committee was approved in 2017 and established in 2019 with members including the Director of Child and Family Services, the Director of Court Services, the Commissioner of Police, the Commissioner of Education and others”.
“This plan of action includes making recommendations on effective mechanisms that will cause the authorities in Bermuda such as Government Ministries, Departments, quangos and child-focused agencies to function in unison and develop the needed legislation, policies, procedures and activities to safeguard and promote the welfare of children in Bermuda.”
The Director of Public Prosecutions compiled a National Child Safeguarding Committee Policy for Bermuda with the goals of strengthening legislation, improving collaboration and strengthening the community protection framework.
“The implementation of the National Child Safeguarding Policy will place Bermuda in a better position when we have to report on compliance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child,” she added.
Once the new policy has been published online, on the Bermuda Government website, Ms Furbert urged members of the community to actually read it.
The new policy, entitled: ‘Working Together To Safeguard Children’, “is a guidancee document for the Bermuda National Child Safeguarding Committee and sets direction for their mandate and work”.
Providing “a brief historical backdrop on the origin of developing this Policy”, she noted that the approach would require “the collaboration of multi-agencies through the sharing of information and the undertaking of robust risk assessments”.
The National Child Safeguarding Committee comprises of the following members:
- Solicitor General
- Director of Child and Family Services
- Director of Court Services
- Commissioner of Police
- Director of Public Prosecutions
- Permanent Secretary of the Ministry responsible for Child and Family Services
- Commissioner of Prisons
- Commissioner of Education; and,
- The Chief Medical Officer
A representative of the Bermuda Hospitals Board was recently appointed as the Clinical Director of the Intellectual Disabilities Programme to join the Committee, Mrs Morrisa Rogers.
The National Child Safeguarding Committee has three broad aims:
- To coordinate the Bermuda Government’s response to child safeguarding by drawing on cross-department knowledge, skills and expertise through a collaborative approach and align with constitutional and legislative responsibilities
- To develop effective multi-agency working to safeguard children from all forms of abuse through comprehensive policies established from best practice; and,
- To foster collaboration with community partners and strengthen safeguarding, protection and prevention systems through a zero-tolerance approach to child abuse
“This plan of action includes making recommendations on effective mechanisms that will cause the authorities in Bermuda such as Government Ministries, Departments; Quangos; and child-focused Agencies to function in unison and develop the needed legislation, policies, procedures and activities to safeguard and promote the welfare of children in Bermuda.
The Policy is structured around three broad objectives:
- To strengthen the Legislative Framework;
- To strengthen the Collaborative Framework; and,
- To strengthen the Community Protection Framework.
“Each of these Frameworks comprises specific recommendations to amend legislation or for the Committee to implement and/or execute activities collaboratively to safeguard and promote the well-being of our children in Bermuda.
“The implementation of the National Child Safeguarding Policy will place Bermuda in a better position when we have to report on compliance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.”
The Child Safeguarding Policy will be placed on the Ministry’s website at www.gov.bm.