Gender & Family Affairs Launches Online Family Safety Survey

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The Department of Gender and Family Affairs, Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development, has launched an online survey entitled: ‘Family Safety Survey – COVID-19 Bahamas,’ in line with the department’s objectives of “keeping our families safe.” The availability of the survey is also a part of the technological reform underway at the Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development.

Dr. Jacinta Higgs, the Director of the Department of Gender and Family Affairs, said the survey (available online at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/PZDXGP9) examines how interactions in Bahamian homes may have changed since the arrival of the COVID-19 Pandemic in The Bahamas.

To reduce the instances of COVID-19 community spread in countries worldwide, global governments have implemented social/physical distancing policies, curfews and mandatory lockdowns as key mechanisms in that fight. This has resulted in persons having to spend more and more time together in confined spaces at home.

Dr. Higgs said the survey – which will take just five minutes to complete – will allow officials to garner as much information as possible on what is actually happening in homes during the curfew and/or mandatory lockdown periods in order to be better able to respond, and to be better able to bring about improvement: “once we know, and if persons reach out to us.” The survey, which has been designed to elicit responses from males and females 18 years of age and above, has multiple objectives. “The objectives of the survey are to ascertain, via an online platform which is accessible across the length and breadth of The Bahamas, responses from persons – men and women – ages 18 and above, the level of safety and/or violence in their homes pre-COVID-19 curfew, or lockdown or Emergency Order.  And during this experience to find out, in the first instance, what is the prevalence or lack thereof of violence within our homes and, secondly, would the experiences have been exacerbated as a result of persons living now confined, and living very closely to one another over longer periods of time,” Dr. Higgs said.

“Also to find out what are the concerns of Bahamians from every island and every cay; and then finally to provide persons who may be experiencing violence in their homes with yet another safe space contact (safespace242@gmail.com).  A private cell number has also been provided for those persons to have contact with the Department.” Dr. Higgs said anyone who has access to a cell phone anywhere in The Bahamas can participate in the survey.

“This is the first time in the history of the Department that we have conducted such a survey. This is the first time in the history of the Department that we have such reach to those persons.”  The Department has undertaken the steps necessary to ensure the security and confidentially of all answers to the survey. Officials say the answers provided will remain completely “anonymous and confidential.” The ‘surveymonkey’ web platform is international, universal and used by universities and research organizations and/or centres, in addition to departments within government, to allow those organizations to reach the greatest number of persons electronically.

“It is a platform that is safe,” Dr. Higgs assured. “We are working with one of the major universities, and the information will go directly to the research person assigned to the survey. Once the survey is submitted the responses are immediately gathered by the individual.” Dr. Higgs said the online survey provides added benefits. “The online survey is fully electronic which allows for the automatic calculation of the various responses. It further affords us the capability for the survey responses to be disaggregated (divided into detailed sub-categories) outlining for example, how many men have responded, how many women have responded. “The advantage of using surveymonkey is not only to allow us access to every Bahamian in every Family Island and Cay, but it also allows us to gather that information, collate the information, then analyze the information and provide a report in a very quick turnaround time, as opposed to the sometimes years of turnaround time a survey of this magnitude may yield in terms of analyzing [the data] and then producing a report,” Dr. Higgs added.

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