Belmopan, July 10, 2017
The Ministry of Human Development, Social Transformation and Poverty Alleviation joins the nation of Belize in grieving the death of 13-year-old, Faye Lin Cannon of San Pedro Town. The Department of Human Services (DHS) is collaborating with the San Pedro Police Department in its criminal investigation. Following the detention of the mother and stepfather by the Police Department, on July 6th, 2017, the three surviving siblings were taken into protective care. DHS is also currently conducting its child abuse investigation and has referred the children for therapeutic counselling to assist them through this traumatic experience.
While DHS is unable to discuss the details of cases due to our mandate of confidentiality, there have been a number of disclosures about the Department’s previous involvement with the family in the media. Departmental records show that in 2014, there was a report of improper supervision and inadequate parenting whereby the Cannon children were being exposed to the elements. A joint investigation was conducted along with the Police Department, where the parents, children and school officials were interviewed. The allegation was substantiated, however, there were no disclosures or indicators of any other forms of physical or sexual abuse at that time. As such, the Department created a plan with the parents for the proper supervision of the children. The plan was monitored for adherence and the case was later closed when it was deemed that the parents had been compliant. Since then, the Department’s records show no other reports being made of neglect or abuse of these children.
The Ministry takes this opportunity to remind the public that the Families and Children (Child Abuse Reporting) Regulations, Chapter 173 Revised Edition 2003, specifies that it is a moral obligation of the general public to report child abuse and it is mandatory for family members, education personnel, health personnel, and any person whose daily work involves children to report any known or suspected abuse or neglect of children to the Department of Human Services or Police Department. If you know of or suspect that a child is being neglected or abused, we urge you to make a report by calling our toll-free hotline 0-800-PROTECT, nearest police station, or Crime Stoppers International at 0-800-922-TIPS.
It is unfortunate that the abuse of our children continues to be an everyday occurrence. In 2016, the Ministry received and investigated 1,485 reports of child abuse and neglect and is aware that many more cases go unreported. To strengthen this child protection and response system, the Ministry has partnered with the National Committee for Families and Children, Ministry of Education, and NOPCAN to conduct nationwide training on Mandatory Reporting of Child Abuse. The program aims to train all those who work with children to detect the signs and symptoms of abuse and apply appropriate protocols for responding to suspected cases. So far, training workshops has been held for primary school teachers and other stakeholders in the Belize Districts.
The Ministry takes ALL reports of child abuse and neglect seriously and will continue to work with the various stakeholders in the Child Protection System and the community to safeguard our children.