Child protection needs to be a national priority

The content originally appeared on: ZNS BAHAMAS News

With the increase of reported cases of child abuse and neglect just in the first 3 months of this new year, it is clear that our country is in a state of emergency. Alarm bells continue to ring while major news outlets consistently report the evil done by people who continue to prey on innocent children.

Recently, a story disclosed that a 13-year-old girl was raped (the press states sexually assaulted), face down by a 23-year-old man. This criminal received a mere four-year sentence for this heinous crime, which carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. His victim will forever be mentally scarred because of this brutal act committed against her. We can only hope that she will receive the psychological services necessary for intervention.

Are we angry? Are we ashamed? If so, the residents of The Bahamas can join the “State of Emergency” demonstration set for April 29th at Rawson Square, organized by Rise Bahamas. Denise Major, a board member and whose career involves working with teens and adults said, “We need the legislature to prioritize the safety of our children. We need every mechanism put in place to protect our children, punish those who hurt or endanger them and rehabilitate offenders.” She further expressed, “Politicians love to say the little darlings are our future, but if we do not do our very best to implement measures and enforce laws that will protect them presently, our future is looking not so bright.”For the past nine years, Rise Bahamas has repeatedly called for stronger child protection laws, such as Marco’s Law, which has yet to be fully implemented, a decade after being passed into law. They emphasize that we must continue to push officials to have this critical alert system installed and activated across widespread media including mobile phones, billboards, social media and television stations.

Founder of Rise Bahamas, Terneille “TADA” Burrows wants residents to make a statement by joining the “State Of Emergency” Child Protection Demonstration in Rawson Square on Saturday April 29, 2023, from 8 am – 11 am. Concerned citizens and groups are invited to attend, sign a newly launched petition at and request the “We Won’t Rest” theme song at local radio stations during this National Child Protection Month.

Event partners include Families of All Murder Victims (F.O.A.M.), S.A.F.E – Stop Abuse for Everyone and IOT (It’s Our Turn). The following statements were issued.

“We at IOT work towards the betterment of marginalized, abandoned and abused youth by providing mental health resources, quality education opportunities and leadership skills through the transformational gospel of Christ. We are partnering with Rise Bahamas during this Child Protection Month because we understand the importance of cooperation and collaboration when it comes to building a safer Bahamas for our Youth. Together, we can achieve more!”

S.A.F.E. is a non-profit organization founded to raise awareness of child abuse in The Bahamas. “We are ready to join our friends at Rise Bahamas for their Child Protection demonstration because they, too, recognize the importance of ensuring the safety of every child in this country,” stated Lafran Smith, Founder and President.

“A few years ago, a Sex Offenders Registry was introduced as a part of Marco’s Law, but we feel that it should be retroactive. We want stiffer penalties across the board for crimes against children. While those convicted of such crimes are imprisoned, we need mandated psychological evaluation, intervention and treatment to prevent repeat offenses,” states Burrows. Rise Bahamas has also proposed “Bella’s Bill”, an amendment to Section 63 of the Child Protection Act that would expand the categories of stewards of children who are mandated to report suspected child abuse. For more information about Rise Bahamas please visit http://www.rise