A talk on preventing child abuse in sports drew an interested Brac audience earlier this month keen to learn more about this important issue.

A delegation from the Ministry of Community Affairs, Youth and Sports traveled to Cayman Brac on Thursday, Feb. 9, to kick off the first in a series of child abuse prevention training sessions, a press release states.

Sports in the Sister Islands are coordinated through the Sports Association of the Sister Islands, which worked with the ministry to conduct the initial training session for a group of 14 sports administrators, coaches and officials.

Led by Director of the Department of Children and Family Services Felicia Robinson, the sessions are being conducted in support of the recently approved Child Abuse Prevention Policy for Sports Associations, which requires the training for sports officials.

According to the press release, the Children Law (2012 Revision) requires mandatory reporting of suspected child abuse cases from any member of the public and charges the Department of Children and Family Services with dealing with these cases. One of the primary functions of the Child Abuse Prevention Policy is to create a structure within each association to properly report suspicions of child abuse.

In her presentation Ms. Robinson discussed the effects of child abuse, which can include long-term emotional scarring of an individual well into adulthood, and the importance of the policy.

Under the law, child abuse includes sexual abuse, physical or emotional abuse, and neglect of a child. Ms. Robinson provided detailed descriptions of what would constitute child abuse in each of these four categories, along with a comprehensive list of the symptoms of child abuse, so that those working with children in a sporting environment can recognize the telltale signs, the release states.

Ms. Robinson also detailed the process through which suspicions of child abuse are to be reported to the Department of Children and Family Services, through the child protection officers of each club and the National Sporting Association.

Each club must have a child protection officer who is responsible for facilitating the reporting of suspicions of child abuse from any official or member of the association, and who must also ensure that each member club within the association has an appropriately trained Child Protection Officer.

“Shielding our children from harm and the risk of abuse is both a statutory obligation and one for which all civic-minded citizens are jointly accountable,” said Minister of Sports Osbourne Bodden, who is also Minister for Youth and Community Affairs.

“We all share a profound duty of care to act responsibly, and with urgency in protecting our children from harm.”

Minister Bodden noted that a lot of time and care had been taken in formulating the policy by the Ministry, the DCFS and the Attorney General’s Office to ensure that it would be effective and in compliance with the Children Law.

Vice President of the Sister Islands Swim Club and parent volunteer Chevala Burke said that she found the training to be informative, engaging and relevant to many of the issues faced by children. She added that the ability to address questions directly to the minister and the ministry staff was especially useful to the session participants.

Training is continuing in Grand Cayman for association presidents, technical directors and child protection officers until Feb. 23.

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