In recognition of Child Abuse Awareness Month and Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Saving Children and Revealing Secrets [SCARS] and Centre Against Abuse [CAA] united to hold a joint event titled ‘Partner in Prevention’ on Friday, April 26.

“SCARS and Centre Against Abuse recognized government departments that partner with them to put prevention mechanisms in place to decrease the risk of sexual assault, or who work on the frontlines to support survivors of sexual assault.

“The Government Departments that were saluted for their work and presented with a plaque as a Partner in Prevention were: The Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Senator Kathy Lynn Simmons; Department of Public Prosecution; Department of Education; Environmental Health; Ministry of Health; Department of Youth, Sport and Recreation; Bermuda Police Service; Child Development Programme; Child & Family Services – Foster Care Department; Works & Engineering; Kim Jackson, Mirrors Programme; Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners; Bermuda Police Service – Vulnerable Persons Unit and the Department of Child and Family Services.

“The Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Senator the Hon. Kathy Lynn Simmons, was recognized for the work she has implemented since taking office.

“Most significantly, Minister Simmons is the first to use the discretionary power of the Minister of Legal Affairs to disclose information in relation to sex offenders who are considered to present a risk of significant harm to the health or safety of the public, an affected group of people, or an individual.

“In addition, she has spearheaded the revision of the Criminal Code Amendment Act to include reforms to improve the management and treatment of sex offenders while in custody and after, and formalized electronic sex offender register maintained by Attorney General’s Chambers.

“The guest speaker, Kevin McNeil, a former Police Detective and founder of The Twelve Project, shared his story of being sexually assaulted as a young student and holding onto the hurt and pain of the assault for decades.

“He explained that it was while visiting a child advocacy centre he learned how to respectfully interview child survivors of sexual assault, and start his path to healing and sharing awareness on this topic. Kevin founded, The Twelve Project to be a bridge between the lack of public knowledge and awareness about abuse.”

Laurie Shiell, Executive Director at CAA stated, “This is the second time that CAA and SCARS have united for an event. It is always a pleasure to work with the SCARS team, and this time it was made more special as we honored people in our community who also work in their own special way to prevent sexual assault or support survivors of sexual assault.”

Debi Ray Rivers, Founder and Executive Director of SCARS said, “I wish to thank the hardworking dedicated members of our Government and the Public Service who have a heart for children and truly care about child protection. Bermuda is leading the world in prevention! Over 16% [8,798 adults] of our adult population certified in sexual abuse prevention.”

By Bernews