Time to honour our local children

I am honoured to usher in the Cayman Islands 17th Annual Child Month observance with the theme of “Care. Advocate. Protect.” The Ministry of Community Affairs, Gender and Housing and the Department of Children and Family Services are pleased once again to take a leading role in organising initiatives and events for the entire month of May.

Child Month is especially celebratory this year as the country now has in effect a law dedicated to children – the Children Law (2012 Revision). The enactment of this law sends a powerful statement that we, as a country, put the welfare and protection of our children at the forefront of all considerations. This year’s theme pays tribute to the Children Law (2012 Revision) and reinforces our commitment to the children of the Cayman Islands.

The Children Law (2012 Revision) came in to effect on 1st July, 2012 and provides the instrument for the Cayman Islands to implement the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. It is also in keeping with the Cayman Islands Constitution Order 2009, Bill of Rights, Freedoms and Responsibilities. The basic principle of the law is that the welfare of the child is of paramount importance in all matters.

I urge you to educate yourselves on the law, especially the provision on the mandatory reporting of child abuse and neglect. People are now legally required to report if, in the course of their work, they have a reasonable suspicion that a child has been or is being abused or neglected. This includes, for example, medical practitioners, psychologists, police officers, probation officers, social workers, ministers of religion, teachers, principals, counsellors and any other persons who work in the child care services.

Children deserve the opportunity to reach their full potential and have the right to be safe, healthy, make a positive contribution, feel loved, valued and supported by a network of reliable and affectionate relationships. If they are denied the opportunity and support they need, children become vulnerable, prone to being abused and neglected and also disadvantaged and socially excluded in adulthood.

We owe it to our children, our families, our community and our future to nurture our children. I encourage you to participate in the fun and informative activities planned for this month and thank the Department of Children and Family Services for all their hard work.

Let’s all make a concerted effort to celebrate and cherish the children of these Islands every day of every month, all year round.

Dwayne Seymour,

Minister of Community Affairs, Gender & Housing

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