Minister of Social Services and Urban Development, the Hon. Obie Wilchcombe, says more needs to be done to fill the airwaves with positivity.
Prior to entering the weekly Cabinet Meeting, held in Grand Bahama for the second time, the Minister fielded questions from the media.
He was questioned on domestic abuse, child abuse, legislation and response to the issue of domestic violence. He said effective communication is important in creating the right attitudes. At the Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development, veteran broadcaster Debbie Bartlett has been brought in to lead a communications initiative.
“We’re not causing people to understand the dangers of what they’re engaged in. Why we’re heading in that direction is because we’re not getting to the young people as we should because we’re expecting them to be educated by everybody else except us, and so we have to find a way to communicate.”
The Minister said he feels there is a breakdown of communication at home and nationally and as a result, the government must now do more.
Questioned about harsher penalties for sexual offenders, Minister Wilchcombe said that while laws may be changing, this is not getting to the root of the problem. It is getting to the people before the crime is committed, he said, and added that there will be a very important meeting with the Church on Thursday to discuss marital rape. It is hoped this will result in the government’s being able to move forward with that legislation as well, once they settle on the language within the legislature.
“But the legislation alone is not going to be the answer. You have issues with individuals who have a deep problem and that’s being dealt with in another way. I believe that when we begin to accept things as normal in our society, that is when are now appreciating we have gone in the wrong direction.”
Influence, and when information is being obtained, has a lot to do with this, continued the Social Services Minister, and so it is important to get positive messages out.
Even though cases of child neglect/abuse continue to happen the Minister said, “Again, what is causing it? We do appreciate the economic circumstances create some issues for us, we do appreciate that there have been women who have taken that decision to abandon the child. What we seek to do is move in as quickly as we can to provide assistance.”
“The difficulty we always face is how do we break this Devil’s triangle because even though the child is in good care the child is now broken. So, we have to try and get away from that.”
In collaboration with the Royal Bahamas Police Force, safe houses are going to be opened. In the northern Bahamas, he said, facilities will be opened and available for young men, girls, and pregnant teens in June.
It is important, however, to put certain things in place. “Education is fundamental, communication is fundamental, the right people are fundamental. What we don’t want to do is pass legislation or just talk about a thought. These things have stages, and they must be all put together. If you have the paradigm right and it’s being executed in the right way, we’ll see the changes that we want.
“We have to change the attitude to bring some love back into the country,” he said.