GREAT BAY (DCOMM) –Yesterday marked the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. It is also an international recognized day in support of victims of torture. Local data show a sharp increase in neglect over the past three years, while reported sexual abuse declined.
According to the United Nations nearly 200 million people are using drugs like cocaine, cannabis, hallucinogens, opiates and sedative hypnotics worldwide.
In December 1987 the UN General Assembly decided to observe June 26 as the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. The UN was determined to help create an international society free of drug abuse.
This day is supported by individuals, communities and various organizations all over the world. While the UN General Assembly adopted a political declaration to address and fight against this global drug problem, Sint Maarten is paving its way to address this problem, as part of the sustainable development goals on peace, justice and strong institutions, from a local perspective.
Unicef researched violence and abuse in 2012. The report from this study -The Situation of Children and Adolescents in Sint Maarten – states that a contributing factor of students dropping out of school not only relates to behavioral problems, but also to the use of drugs and physical violence with other students.
A child protection system has been set up which includes a six step protocol on detection and intervention in cases that a child has been abused, neglected, mistreated or if there has been some kind of violence.
Domestic violence has to do with physical or sexual violence. This does not only affect adolescents, but also children, and is generally invisible and not reported.
Besides, women and children, it also affects men, parents and the elderly. In 2010, directives were put in place which identified children as victims when they were witness to relational violence.
In January 2014 the Court of Guardianship was appointed as the central reporting center on child abuse.
The tasks of the Court of Guardianship include registering abuse, investigating children’s safety and advising individuals or entities by reporting or intervening in child abuse cases.
Intervention measures include warnings, removing children from parental custody (after permission from the public prosecutor or a judge) and pressing charges against the perpetrator in the event the legal guardian does not do it.
Reported data about abuse over the period 2014-2016 shows a decline in sexual abuse, but a sharp increase in neglect.
The number of reported case for 2014, 2015 and 2016 respectively are: neglect: 14, 61 and 67; physical abuse: 14, 13 and 22; psychological and emotional abuse: 2, 1 and 5; sexual abuse: 19, 8 and 6.