Doctor appeals to parents as cases of sexual abuse detected at back-to-school fair
AT least three cases of sexual abuse were detected by doctors offering back-to-school check-ups at this year's LIME Skool Aid at Jamworld Entertainment Centre in Portmore, St Catherine at the weekend.
The issue has prompted one doctor to urge Jamaican parents to pay more attention to their children's health.
Although Dr Andre McDonald acknowledged the three cases, he said, "we suspect that it is much more, especially as it relates to the boys".
Dr McDonald and about 62 health care professionals attended to more than 300 children during the two-day event, which was attended by Jamaicans from as far as Manchester.
The doctor found it difficult to hide his disgust as he gave details of at least one case.
"Another child had some discharge in her panties..." he outlined, noting that two reports were issued upon the discoveries: One to the children's parents, and the other to the Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse (CISOCA).
He recommended that the three children be specially examined by CISOCA, and said that his team will recommend that LIME assist in following up on these cases.
"That's the only way the initiative will fulfil its purpose. We have to follow up on them," he said.
The health care professionals included doctors, nurses, dental experts, barbers, opticians, and hair care professionals, who all volunteered their services.
"One of the most common issue is that there are children with eye challenges. There are some children who are medically blind. This means that, by medical standards, they cannot see and write. And if they can't see to write, they can't see to read," Dr McDonald said while directing a swell of noisy parents and their children into stalls erected in air-conditioned tents at the health centre.
"There are children with dental caries or rotten teeth, which will affect them in that they can't eat properly, and, of course, that is going to prevent them from studying effectively," said Dr McDonald.
"Many times we hear parents complain, even some who come here this weekend, that their children are dull or not performing, and they cuss them; but they don't know that they are having these medical challenges," he said. McDonald said that on the first day, Saturday, at least 450 children were treated by the medical team, 300 by the dental officials, 200 by the opticians, and at least 300 boys received haircuts from barbers.
According to Carlene Cobourne, a dental nurse who oversaw activities in the dental booth, the children's dental health was stable for the most part.
"A few have cavities, the others were alright," she said, adding that operations in her domain were running smoothly throughout the two days and that there were three nurses and two persons rendering dental assistance.
Cobourne said that it was her second time at the event, and confirmed that children from as far as Manchester sat in her chair during the two days.
Upon hearing about the lead doctor's findings, vice-president of marketing at LIME, Carlo Redwood, responded: "Our medical centre is in place to pick up on things that are affecting these kids' ability to perform in school.
"Many of these children, the only time they get check-ups like these is here. And this is because their parents can't afford it. So the medical team and everyone here expose the real issues, health and social issues, that affect these children."
Redwood said that this year LIME increased its offerings, providing more than 50 booths inclusive of an Olympic Area, a Mist Centre, a Water Park, among other entertainment.
Dancehall artistes QQ, Chuck Fenda, Demarco, comedians Ity and Fancy Cat, and a magician, Wizard, also entertained at the event.