The governments of St Helena and Ascension Island recognise their responsibility to protect the vulnerable in society, especially children. Following the improvements that flowed from the ‘Safeguarding Children in the Overseas Territories Programme’, work has continued to strengthen the child protection framework on both Islands, including raising awareness of the need to safeguard children from sexual or physical abuse. As a result, in the past few years several offenders have been detected, prosecuted and awarded custodial sentences.
To help assess progress and identify areas for improvement, two representatives of the independent Lucy Faithful Foundation (LFF), a UK based charity dedicated to preventing the sexual abuse of children (http://www.lucyfaithfull.org/), visited St Helena and Ascension earlier this year. A summary of the report of their visit is now available on the SHG website. As the substantive report contains data that could identify individual child protection cases, it will be available only to officials involved in child protection work. While the report recognises the progress made, it points to areas where more remains to be done. The recent strengthening of the Police and Social Services Department on St Helena will help take forward this important work.
Ian Rummery, Chair of the Public Health Committee, commented:
“The Lucy Faithful Foundation’s ‘Child Safety Review’ is a report that we cannot ignore. It highlights significant areas of concern around not only child safety but also the high incidence of sexual offences on St Helena. These are difficult issues for any community to face but there is evidence in this report of good practice on Island. We are building strong foundations to improve the safeguarding of children but there is much work still to be done. We need to adopt a public health initiative so that all members of our community are involved in preventing abuse. Ultimately we are all responsible for the safety of children on St Helena.”
Commenting on the LFF report, David Jenkins, Director of Health and Social Welfare said:
“Like elsewhere in the world, St Helena must ensure that it has adequate structures in place to protect children from sexual abuse and to detect and deal with any such offences. The LFF report has provided an independent perspective that will assist us with our on-going multi-disciplinary agency working and will strengthen our arrangements to protect children by targeting our resources in the most effective way.”
11 October 2013