Final press release


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Final press release

  1. 1. 1May 2, 2013The National Committee for Families and Children (NCFC) expresses its sincerestcondolences to the families of Felicia Chen and Thomas Teul on the loss of their loved ones.The nation mourns with them and laments the unfortunate circumstances that led to such atragic outcome. The death of any child is regrettable but the death of three children demandsthat we pause and reflect on how to strengthen the support to families to ensure that there isawareness of the warning signs and where to access services to prevent future occurrences.So while the country grapples with this very perplexing and sobering incident there are a fewconsiderations worthy of our attention. The NCFC takes this opportunity to share thesewith the nation.It still takes a Village!As we go through a collective grieving process it is expected that there will be much pre-occupation with assigning blame for the unfortunate events that led to the loss of thesechildren’s lives. However, there is still wisdom in the age old adage of “needing a village toraise a child.” Government and non-governmental organizations must coordinate amongstthemselves to ensure that the services they provide reach those families and children who arein dire need of them. There is also a need for parents, families and communities to aid inprotecting our children. There must be a social alliance of “zero tolerance to violence”against our children in all its forms. As a society we need to come to the consensus thatviolence against children is un-justifiable.The recent initiatives to promote alternative measures to discipline/and subsequent removalof corporal punishment was a first step in demonstrating the type of reform necessary forsubstantial change. In our homes, in the schools and in the community we must cultivate aculture of respecting the rights of our children to a safe and secure environment in whichthey are nurtured and allowed the opportunity to become productive citizens. The mostimportant setting for this to be demonstrated is within the homes that children live. Familiesmust support each other at the community level.“Championing the Rights, Welfare and Development of Belizean Families and Children”
  2. 2. 2Support Services for Families and Children – Help is available!As the fundamental unit of our society –our country will only be as strong and productive asthe families that make up our communities. Our government has the duty to support parentsin their natural responsibility of rearing and nurturing children. Through the Ministry ofHuman Development, Social Transformation and Poverty Alleviation many supportprograms are in place that offer assistance to families who are having difficulties coping withfulfilling these responsibilities. These services include financial, parenting, counseling,empowerment, education and case management support to individuals, families andchildren. Additionally there are Non-Governmental Organizations that offer services tovulnerable families. The Youth Enhancement Services (YES) continues to offer support toteenage mothers. The National Organization for the Prevention of Abuse and Neglect(NOPCAN) offers support to families dealing with abuse prevention and alternative formsof discipline. The Mental Health Association of Belize continues its awareness on the needfor greater focus on mental health. There are many opportunities for families to get help anda visit to the NCFC’s website at provides a social service directory thathelps families to navigate these service providers.Media Coverage of Incidents Involving ChildrenThe NCFC recognizes the public’s interest in issues affecting Belizean communities. We alsorecognize that in a democracy the media has the role of providing information and creatingawareness. But there is also an important function the Media and journalist fulfill inmaintaining the balance between information sharing and protecting the family and child’sprivacy. Privacy is important because it allows for the affected child to regain normalcy andreduce the stigma and discrimination from adults and peers at school and in the community.Responsible media houses demonstrate a high level of sensitivity in reporting to reduce theharm to the surviving child. Additionally media houses must be reminded that the case isunder investigation and is therefore governed by legal protocols that ensure the protectionof all children involved in these types of cases. For ease of reference the following is anexcerpt from the Families and Children Act Section 153 (1 -6) that govern coverage of casesinvolving a child witness. Journalist should take special measures to adhere to the properprotocols when reporting on stories involving children.(1)A court may decide to sit in private for the whole or part of any proceedings in which anypower under this Act may be exercised by that court with respect to any child.(2) It shall be an offence for any person to publish any material which is intended, or islikely, to identify -(a) any child as being involved in any proceedings before acourt in which any power under this Act may be exercisedby the court with respect to that or any other child; or(b) an address or school as being that of a child involved inany such proceedings; or(c) any child involved in any alleged crime, whether as a victim,
  3. 3. 3Witness or the accused person.(3) In any proceedings for an offence under this section it shall be a defense for the accusedto prove that he did not know, and had no reason to suspect, that the published material wasintended, or was likely, to identify the child.(4) The court may, if satisfied that the welfare of the child requires it, by order dispense withthe requirements of subsection (2) (a) or (b) to such extent as may be specified in the order.(5) For the purposes of this section -“publish” includes-(a) broadcast by radio, television or cable or satellitetelevision; or(b) cause to be published in any newspaper or by any othermanner whatever; and“material” includes any picture or representation.(6) Any person who contravenes this section commits an offenceand is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding five thousand dollarsor to imprisonment for a term not exceeding twelve months, or to both such fineand term of imprisonment.The sanctity of human life and the innocence of childhood must be preserved. Our youngestcitizens deserve the assurance of safety and security from those entrusted with theresponsibility to protect them and help them to develop to their fullest potential. Protectionfrom all forms of violence is a basic right! As families continue to meet the challenges ofparenting in these times please be assured that the NCFC and its partners are working toamplify the impact of their programs and services necessary to nurture resilient families.For any further information contact:Pearl Stuart OR Luwani CayetanoChairperson Executive DirectorNational Committee for Families and Children62 Cleghorn StreetBelize City, BelizeTel: