20 November, 2008

Child Abuse

When a senior Civil Servant stands up for right, we should all stand up for her. The UK has produced a Report that contains critical information on a wide range of children’s issues, including child abuse. The Report is titled The Risk and Vulnerability Facing Children. It was designed for all the Overseas Territories as part of the UK’s commitment to comply with its Rights of the Child Convention obligations across its territories. The Report included a strategic plan for dealing with the issues. It was submitted to all the Overseas Territories in March 2007.

As usual with all important social reform initiatives that were not thought up by a politician, the Report appears to have fallen into the black holes that exist at all our Ministries of Health.

Last September, the British Overseas Territories were asked to provide a status report on the implementation of their strategic plans to carry out the recommendations of the Report. Anguilla is one of those territories. Child abuse and neglect is no less a serious and widespread problem in Anguilla than it is in the Cayman Islands.

I wonder whether Anguilla was honest enough to admit that no action has taken place since the Report was submitted. But, we shall never know. That information is, as usual, confidential.

Deanna Look Loy of the Cayman Islands is one brave woman. She is their Child and Family Services Director. She had been calling in vain on her Ministry of Health to implement the Report. To date she has not received a reply. Then she began demanding that immediate action be taken by the Child and Family Services Department to implement the Report. Still no response. Now, she has gone public.

Deanna Look Loy

You might say that she has ratted on her Permanent Secretary.

If she was a senior public servant in Anguilla, she would have been transferred to our equivalent of the Gulag by now.

The cynical would say that Ms Look Loy must be very close to retirement age for her to dare do such a thing. Her photograph shows that nothing could be further from the truth. She is just one brave woman.


  1. Most people think of the region as a vacation spot. They are unaware of problems faced by its people.

    There is money available from the United Nation Development Fund for Women to help organizations fight Domestic Violence in the region. Unfortunately most Caribbean organizations do not follow the proper guidelines in writing acceptable proposals. As a result, Hispanic and Brazilian organizations or NGOs end up receiving all the money allocated to LAC (Latin America and Caribbean Section).

    Caribbean people do not keep abreast of what is going on around them.

  2. The problems are apathy, indifference, alienation, exclusion, etc. - you find yourself battling fires all over the place and really getting very little accomplished. The BVI passed a law requiring teachers and doctors to report suspected cases of child abuse - but before it went to the legislature, the previous government took out the clergy, lawyers and police officers completely gutting the thing.

    And efforts to work on raising awareness of the legislation and its provisions are hampered by the unwillingness of government departments to work together - if you think the turf wars between the FBI, the CIA and police departments in the States is bad, you haven't seen it here!

  3. It is very difficult for women to come forward when they or their daughters are abused by their husbands or partners in underdeveloped countries because most institutions are run by men. Who will take care of their families if they leave their abusive husbands? Abusive men in developing countries are mostly the heads of households. Women have really nowhere to turn.

  4. Mrs. Look Loy also attacked negligent parents looking for handouts. I like this woman's spirit!

    Caymanian Compass
    Some parents neglecting kids’ school lunches
    By Shurna Robbins, shurna@cfp.ky
    Wednesday 19th November, 2008

    More than 500 children in the Cayman Islands have their school lunches paid for by government.

    But it is likely that more school children are getting subsidised lunches from school authorities and non–profit groups because parents are neglecting to supply adequate food or money for lunch even if they can afford it, says the Director of Child and Family Services, Deanna Look Loy.

    “There are parents who do need help in providing lunch to their children and we are happy to provide that service because children need proper nutrition in which to learn,” says Look Loy. “But these are not all needy cases. There are many parents who can afford it but still don’t give their child a proper brownbag lunch or money to buy it. And this is really irresponsible of parents.”

    Many parents will go on expensive vacations abroad and come back to Child and Family Services and ask for help paying for school expenses including lunch, she explained.

    In 2007, there were about 7,300 school children in school with about 4,600 in the public school system with the remaining students attending private schools.

    The bulk of the 500 students receiving government subsidised lunch attend the public school system.

    That number may even be higher because some school authorities and other non–profit organisations are providing lunch when the child’s parents do not go through Child and Family Services for assistance.

    This high number appears to contradict the results of the National Assessment of Living Conditions study, a report that was released earlier this year and indicated that less than two per cent of the population lives below the poverty line.

    For many children, school meals are their main source of nutrition. Inadequate nutrition can have a devastating impact on a child’s development, resulting in slower learning and increased illness.

    To become eligible for subsidised lunch, parents must go to Child and Family Services to be interviewed as to need assessment. But many parents refuse to be interviewed so if they are not providing their children an adequate meal at lunchtime then it is left to the schools or non–profits to provide it; otherwise that child could go without. Some non–profits are even providing breakfast to school children says Look Loy.

    “There are many parents who could do better for their children, but they are just negligent,” says Look Loy.


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