Five Year Plan – 2020-2025
The Child Helpline, implemented in 2019, has met with significant success. It provides a free, confidential, anonymous online counseling service to Grenadians, and we are now happy to report callers from an International clientele as well.
We accept telephone calls (473-800-4444), WhatsApp texts (473-534-7867) and emails (firstname.lastname@example.org). So far, we have found the WhatsApp feature the most popular by far, with multiple contacts initiated per day.
Helpline counselors received an initial training from the Directors at Stop It Now! One of the longest serving child helplines in the USA. On-going training continues via collaborations with CHI (Child Helplines International). We have also partnered with the Aruba Helpline (Hub for the Americas and Caribbean), the One Family Foundation, and the “Toronto Line”. The Toronto Line has the following aims in mind:
1.1. The purpose of this common project is to create an online tech platform (‘Platform’) that will bring the benefits of modern information technology to the child helpline movement, enabling them to better serve children. The Platform will be used by hundreds of organizations worldwide that are capturing millions of contacts with children via voice, text, messaging, social media, etc. The platform will assist child helplines to manage and collect data about their core activities of serving children who are reaching out for help.
1.2. The Platform intends to make it easier to collect more accurate data, in order to help individual helplines gain productivity and effectiveness in their core program activities. Furthermore, expanded data collection may enable application of new technological opportunities, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, discovering new insights for improving the effectiveness helpline services.
1.3. Other purposes of the Platform are analysis of data to report on child abuse and protection, providing a major global data source for child protection agencies. Results of such analysis are used to generate social impact evidences to convince funders and governments to unlock more resources.
The Helpline was developed and piloted with assistance from CFLI (Canadian Fund for Local Initiatives), and is now run with assistance from the Sandals Foundation, Jamaica.
Along with our on-going video advertisement, which runs twice per week on the Grenada Broadcasting Network (GBN) – https://youtu.be/rp-6nvI1m88– Our production company is currently developing an audio advertisement to be played on radio in Grenada, and an Anime film for social media. The Helpline is further promoted by a series of highly visible billboards across Grenada, Carriacou and Petit Martinique.
Sweet Water Public Clinic:
This was an unplanned off-shoot from the Helpline, but was implemented in direct response to a clear need. It was implemented in January, 2019.
Some of our Helpline clientele described issues which clearly demanded one-on-one counsel (spirit possession, suicidal and homicidal ideation, group sexual abuse, etc.) The Clinic is now set up within the Montessori School complex in Mt. Tout, but will move to a new, permanent home by the end of 2019. Originally open one day a week only, it now provides services twice weekly and accepts referrals from sources other than the Helpline. We charge a one-time administrative fee of $50. Sessions MUST be scheduled in advance, through agency or professional referral.
Psychotherapy Group Program – RISE:
This psychotherapy program for female, adolescent, victims of sexual violence has run since 2015. (As of June, 2019, we are on hiatus until the new, permanent location is ready). Closely based on the psychodynamic psychotherapy model, it is 14 sessions long, 2 hours per session, and accepts up to 12 clients per cycle. Clients are referred by state NGOs, but also by family, friends, and schools; clients may also self-refer.
Sessions include a standard psychotherapy format, in which clients bring to the group what they choose. Additionally, given the theme of our group, healing modalities have been worked in such as yoga, presentations from guest lecturers on sexual and reproductive health, the law, and feminist understandings of gender-based-violence.
Note that the tone of this group is as “light” as possible, since the primary aim is to introduce and sustain healing mechanisms, rather than to take up an academic approach to the issue.
Psychotherapy Group Program – Young MSM:
We have run two of these programs thus far, in 2017 and 2018, meeting with extreme success.
The format is similar to that of the RISE program described above, but follows the Psychoanalytic psychological model rather than the psychodynamic. Along with the healing modalities described above as an essential part of our session focus, the psychoanalytic model leads to explorations of the role of the unconscious in the process of individuation and healing for these young men.
This helps to solidify our presence in the Caribbean and Latin Region as a primary institute for the provision of services to marginalized or key populations. This also leads to our current interest in Indigenous Caribbean Populations.
Program under development.
Sweet Water Psychotherapy Training Institute:
This is born out of the recognition that there is a critical dearth of professional psychotherapeutic services available in Grenada, and in the rest of the Caribbean. Note that standard therapeutic training such as offered in Canada, the USA , the UK, the EU, or Zurich, a student must have had between 50 and 100 personal sessions of psychotherapy first, before even applying to psychotherapy school. During training, and after training, the candidate undertakes the provision of psychotherapy services under supervisionfor a specified number of cases prior to applying for licensure to practice as a professional psychotherapist.
Licensure to practice is not normally given to graduates who only have academic degrees or book learning, and no practical experience.
The Department of Psychiatry at the University of the West Indies, Trinidad, will partner with us on the design of the program curriculum, and the administration of the degrees. Several private partners are also indicated to come on board.
This Sweet Water Foundation Psychotherapy Training Institute is a radical, pioneering initiative for the Caribbean and hopes to be ready to advertise its offering by 2021.
“Under Five” is an action research project for the development of a standardized and accessible treatment approach for child sexual abuse victims under the age of five.
It is foreseen as a 36 month project in phase one, with an additional 24 months in phase two.
Partners to the project include CCRON (The Caribbean Child Observatory Network) housed in the University of the West Indies, Jamaica.
Other partners will be announced shortly.
The onset of sexual activity in the Caribbean typically occurs at younger ages than in other parts of the world (Kempadoo & Dunn, 2001), and early sexual debut is now recognized as child abuse. In 2003, The International Bank for Reconstruction / The World Bank concretized the scale of child sexual abuse in the Caribbean, reporting that in a CARICOM study of nine Caribbean islands, one in ten respondents reported being sexually abused, both boys and girls. Additionally, the report suggested that 48% of Caribbean girls receive their sexual initiation by force. In 2006, Hoot, Abella et al. drew linkages between poverty in the Caribbean and Latin America and an increase in sexual activity with children, while the ILO reported that in Belize, children who pass the “90lb test” (who weigh more than 90lbs) are seen to be ready for sexual encounters or sex for trade, despite their age (2006).
In Trinidad and Tobago, there is evidence of organized child prostitution networks (UNCRC, 2003). In 2009, a Haitian study reported 225,000 impoverished children traded into better-off families in an exchange of child labor for upbringing, with an unspoken understanding that sexual compliance is a part of the deal. In Trinidad’s 2016 Report on Child Abuse, the highest category of victims was boys in the age 4-6 category, and in January, 2018, the Office of the DPP in Grenada listed 15 cases of sexual abuse against children under the age of five, on their books at the current time.
Against this backdrop, the Caribbean has developed and enacted new legislation for dealing with perpetrators of sexual violence. Mandatory Reporting is in place, with guaranteed stiff penalties for those convicted. However, there are no psychological interventions in place for victims. The focus remains on apprehending and punishing perpetrators. Neither state nor community-based agencies have yet instituted, or even contemplated interventions to help child victims, once they are removed from physical harm. In Grenada for example, interviews with the Ministry of Social Development, the Child Protection Authority, and the NGO community including the Legal Aid and Counseling Clinic, and the GNCRC, confirm that there is no known available process for child victims (unless a parent has personal access to services).
Yet children remain the most vulnerable of all victims, with extremely debilitating mental, emotional and physical health consequences to bear without the correct psychosocial supports.
The list of disabilities as a result of rape trauma is long. They range from insomnia, anxiety and estrangement from other family members, through depression and suicidality, to more complex psychiatric disorders such as Borderline Personality Disorder, Schizophrenia and Dissociated Identity Disorder. (Kohut, 1985). Long-term physical health issues are also indicated, including chronic pulmonary disease, digestive malfunctioning, obesity, endocrine system dysfunction and cardiac disease. (Flaherty et al., 2006, Sachs-Ericsson, 2011, Thompson, 2004). Finally, considering impaired development of the limbic system, and of the cerebral cortex, it is clear that the impact of child sexual abuse upon the human resource element of our Caribbean is more devastating that any hurricane. Needless to say, this points to a complete failure to protect the basic human rights of a child victim, with crippling though often hidden long-term effects.
These issues can be addressed if victims are quickly and effectively mandated to standardized psychological systems of care, which is the objective of this study.
Goal of proposed project:To develop psychological and social work interventions for the protection and treatment of child sexual abuse victims under 5.
Immediate objectives are:
- To document the dimensions (incidences, nature and experiences) of child sexual abuse
- To document, review and assess the status of therapeutic service responses/programs for child sexual abuse victims under five.
- To developa model of culturally relevant, gender sensitive, evidence-based, best -practice medical care, psychological and social work services (therapeutic care) for protecting and treating these victims.
- To pilot a system of sustainable therapeutic care for these victims and their families
- (a). To build capacity amongst child service providers and a cadre of psychologists, counselors, social workers and health sector professionals, to understand and implement the model of child-centered therapeutic care (b) To raise and embed awareness of child sexual abuse for early detection and response interventions in responses within the education sector and child care facilities (e.g day care, nurseries etc)
- To collaborate with relevant governmental agencies for the institution of this model of coordinated therapeutic care of child sexual abuse victims
- Cascade the knowledge gained through enhanced inter-agency collaboration, and through a series of publications coming out of the research and piloting process.
- Impact the lives of Children under five, guardians/parents and service providers- psychological, medical and social work; Child victims of abuse, victims of abuse, their families and care providers. This also includes older children and youth, their families and their service providers (teachers, counselors, magistry, medical).
- A better understanding of the dimensions and nature (quantitative and qualitative) of child sexual abuse.
- A shared assessment by front-line responders of the status of therapeutic care and a commitment to the development of a model for improved protection and treatment
(action research, consultations, workshop, media outreach etc)
- A coordinated therapeutic care model available and accessible to children under five.
- Children’s rights to protection and appropriate treatment are enhanced.
- Development of a widely accessible training tool that promotes child protection skills (detection, response and treatment) from advanced, specialized care to the peer counseling level.
- Increased reporting of child sexual abuse because of awareness of effective coordinated therapeutic care.
- Less children growing into adolescence and adulthood with untreated emotional and mental illness.