The Inter-Agency Committee for Children and Families, the Coalition for the Protection of Children, Family Centre, and SCARS say that they “jointly celebrate the Criminal Code Amendment Act 2020 recently tabled in the Senate by the Attorney General.”

Kelly Hunt of the Coalition for the Protection of Children said, “This is a great example of how one brave voice can positively affect change here in Bermuda. We commend both Ms DaCosta as well as the AG for doing what needs to be done to better safeguard our children from predators.

“This creates an opportunity to shape the culture of our understanding as well as the conversations we have with our children around ‘sexual grooming’. Historically, this been overlooked as a significant factor in facilitating the sexual abuse of a minor so we are very pleased to see this Bill come into effect.”

Debi Ray Rivers of SCARS said, “Christine DaCosta used her voice to create change and SCARS is indeed grateful to her. We are also grateful to our Attorney General Ms. Kathy Lynn Simmons and her team for their continued commitment to enhance legislation that will be protect our vulnerable.

“Legislative reform is a tremendous and major component of the war against child sexual abuse. Adults who choose careers or volunteer with young persons are considered adults in positions of trust. When adults then use that position of trust to groom, lure, and exploit young people to gain sexual pleasure it causes trauma and it’s a crime.

“Predators who groomed prior to the age of consent [16] then who went on to abuse after the age of consent were previously deemed not to be in violation of the law.

“This act now makes such grooming and subsequent abuse illegal, and for that we at SCARS are grateful. SCARS continues to encourage those that work in our youth serving organizations like schools, camps and clubs to do everything in their power to reduce the risk of children being groomed and lured into sex by adults and older youth by implementing best practice policies and procedures.”

Sandy De Silva of Family Centre said, “Family Centre commends Ms. DaCosta for the courage she had in sharing her personal story with the public and government. Her courage has lead to a legislated change that will further protect vulnerable persons.

“This is an outstanding result that will have long term positive implications in deterring abuse of minors. This change that now classifies the act of luring, or grooming as a criminal act allows for further early intervention to deal with predatory offenders and thus prevents even more serious crimes from occurring.

“Family Centre echoes the comments of our colleagues in gratitude for the Attorney General Ms. Kathy Lynn Simmons and her team for their continued commitment to protecting the vulnerable.”

Nicola Paugh of the Inter Agency Committee for Children and Families said, “Strengthening measures to protect young persons, including youth who are 16 and 17, from all forms of abuse- physical, emotional and sexual – must be a priority in our community. This amendment reflects a commitment to safeguarding our young people, and IAC is pleased to see the amendment has been tabled.”