SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – The Kingdom Taskforce Children’s Rights can look back to a successful conference titled “Ready. Set. Protect.”. During this conference all four countries and three public entities of the Dutch Kingdom, have been able to interact, plan and agree on important matters that will lead to tangible results when it comes to child protection.
There were several insightful keynote speeches and hands-on workshops. The professionals of all six islands in the Caribbean part of the Dutch Kingdom who attended the conference were impressed. Whereas there is undoubtedly more to be accomplished, all the islands are working diligently to build a strong child protection network. The opportunity to further strengthen collaboration between the islands and the Netherlands was a key take-away, considering that collaboration has proven to be a catalyst to achieve lasting results.
Curaçao and Sint Maarten will collaborate to prepare and introduce their respective reporting codes, the so-called “meldcode” in Dutch. Aruba is executing a social crisis plan, which focuses on prevention among others. Bonaire has been implementing safety nets, to ensure that children have the option to attend extracurricular activities after school. This concept is proven to be quite effective. Saba has introduced the HighScope method, in an effort to improve early childhood education. Sint Eustatius is preparing for the launch of a child line and is also setting up a reporting center for child abuse and domestic violence. These are just a few examples of the initiatives that the islands are undertaking to offer our children a brighter future.
It is a common misconception to think that children are only abused when they are hit, yelled at or sexually harassed. The truth is that the most common form of abuse is neglect, both physical and emotional, which often times goes unnoticed because it is abuse in its passive form. This is the reason why the Taskforce emphasizes prevention. Prevention is one of the focal areas of the MoU, which the countries and public entities in the Dutch Kingdom signed as part of last year’s commemoration of the International Children’s Day in November.
The Kingdom Taskforce Children’s Rights was established during the 2014 Kingdom conference in Aruba, to promote collaboration and capacity building on children’s rights within the Kingdom, among other assignments. “Ready. Set. Protect., was the fourth Taskforce conference in a row.