Campbell: ‘No stones to be left unturned’ during investigation

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Minister of Social Services and Urban Development, the Hon. Frankie Campbell (BIS Photo/Lisa Davis)

Min. of Social Services and Urban Development, the Hon. Frankie A. Campbell, Tuesday assured members of the Bahamian public that no stones will be left unturned during the investigation into alleged child abuse at one of the country’s eight Children’s Homes. Minister Campbell said an initial inquiry was launched by the National Child Protection Council.

“The investigation into this matter will go wherever it has to go to ensure that it is clearly understood that we will not accept any kind of abuse towards our children,” Minister Campbell said.

“If someone is culpable, the chips will fall where they may. I want to assure the members of the public who would have seen the videos, who out of concern would have shared them with me, that I am on the job as it relates to this matter. I also want to thank all of those persons who would have expressed genuine concern and to reassure the public that this matter will be properly investigated, that it will be impartially investigated.”

Addressing members of the media on the steps leading to the foyer of the Churchill Building, Downtown Nassau, Minister Campbell said as the Minister responsible for the eight Children’s Homes, with approximately 150 children throughout the Commonwealth of The Bahamas — including Grand Bahama and Cat Island, it is his job/mandate to ensure that those children enjoy the full safety, comfort and security that the State has to offer.

Minister Campbell said he was alerted to the presence of a video that was in circulation purporting to be children being abused at one of the eight Children’s Homes on Monday evening (January 18, 2021). “As a matter of fact, it was suggested that it was the Children’s Emergency Hostel. As a result of that, I caused some preliminary inquiries to be done and those inquiries suggested to me that it was necessary to launch a full investigation and so that investigation commenced this morning. I want to make it clear, that in no way, form, or fashion, do we support any form of abuse and/or violence against children and/or adults – be they girls, boys, men and/or women.

“We will leave no stones unturned and we will let the chips fall where they may and at the end of the day, as I came forward to you this morning, I will come back and update you on what has transpired.” Minister Campbell said he has been in communication with the Chairman of the Board at the Children’s Emergency Hostel and that: “we are on the same page.”

The Social Services Minister said officials from the Ministry and its Department of Social Services have been having regular meetings with the various Boards of Directors of those Children’s Homes not owned by the State, but to which the State provides annual subventions through the Department of Social Services, prior to the incident, trying to put together Management Agreements that include standardized protocols for discipline.

“You may appreciate that not all of these Homes are owned by the Government, many of them we are partnering with, but notwithstanding that fact, the welfare of the children is ours; the children are our children and so we want to ensure that in those Management Agreements, there is a protocol for discipline and that there is a distinct difference between discipline and abuse and that is where we draw the line,” Minister Campbell added.