August 27, 2020 Philipsburg – The e-version of the first issue of Growing Up Safe St. Maarten has been launched online. The magazine is geared primarily towards informing and connecting professionals working in the field of Child Protection, but also contains interesting information for the wider community and touches upon topics such as domestic violence and teaching during COVID-19.
The magazine is the first initiative of the recently established Child Protection Working Group (CPWG) with the support from UNICEF Netherlands and the Augeo Foundation. The Child Protection Working Group is an inter-ministerial group, with representatives from the Ministries of Justice, Education, Culture, Youth and Sport (ECYS) and Public Health, Social Development and Labour (VSA).
Minister of Justice Anna Richardson commends the resourcefulness of the venture. She stated, “There is always a need to protect our children in all the different ways. We have to do so as a government and as a community, with our Child Protection professionals. This initiative will go a ways towards improving the professionalism and the effectiveness of operations by informing and exchanging knowledge with persons who work in the field and the community in general about what is going on and how we all can care and assist. Only by working together towards the improvement of Child Protection are we able to increase the level of our most cherished parts of the community our children.”
With the technical support of UNICEF Netherlands, the CPWG was formed in September 2019, to oversee the process of the establishment of a permanent multi-stakeholder Child Protection platform.The goal of the Child Protection Working Group (CPWG) is to ensure that the formal and informal community-based child protection mechanisms on St. Maarten are strengthened, to better meet the protection and safety needs of our children.
“Our professionals; such as teachers, doctors, police, among others, play an important role in ensuring our kids grow up safe and reach their full potential. We supported the development of this magazine because we want to help empower and connect these professionals to strengthen the work that they do,” says Mrs. Kimberly Dort Brown on behalf of the child protection working group.
Augeo Foundation is based in the Netherlands and aims to provide each child with the opportunity to grow up safe. The Foundation publishes a quarterly online magazine in the Netherlands focused on prevention and a systematic approach to child abuse and domestic violence. Last year, Augeo Foundation and UNICEF NL, together with stakeholders on St. Maarten, identified ways to strengthen the child protection system on St. Maarten. Creating a series of magazines is one of the immediate actions taken to support professionals in their important work for children.
“It is great to work together with the professional workforce in St. Maarten by sharing resources and experiences. Developing this magazine together was inspiring. We hope that the content of this magazine inspires many professionals to promote a safe upbringing of children and fight together against every form of violence against children” says Mrs. Andrea Smits of Augeo.
UNICEF Netherlands has been working closely on St. Maarten with the Government, mostly ECYS and the Court of Guardianship, on a number of programs since January 2018. The Child Rights organization has committed to another four years of support made possible by funding from the St. Maarten Trust Fund. With the additional funding, UNICEF Netherlands will continue to help strengthen children’s rights in sectors such as disaster preparedness, psychosocial support, and child protection.
UNICEF Netherlands Child Rights Advocate on St. Maarten, Mrs. Suzette Moses-Burton says, “We are excited that the Child Protection Working Group has been able to successfully launch the first edition of this magazine. Persons interested in children’s rights and who wish to know more about the work that is being done on St. Maarten, should take a look. The content also highlights new tools and programs, as well as a wide range of viewpoints on children’s rights from professionals locally and internationally.”
Topics included in the first edition include: protecting children after a disaster, personal stories on domestic abuse, schooling during the COVID-19 crisis, corporal punishment, highlights of child-protection programs, columns and advice by seasoned professionals, and more.