WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 29: Child sex abuse laws must be strengthened to encourage more victims to come forward, according to the charity Saving Children and Revealing Secrets.

The call comes after a string of alleged child abuse cases were brought before the island’s courts.

Founder of SCARS Debi Ray-Rivers told the Bermuda Sun: “In order to help in the prevention of child sexual abuse, victims of this crime must see accountability and consequence properly bestowed upon their perpetrators.

“The sentencing of child molesters needs to be stiff so that children are more likely to tell and not be intimidated to come forward. 

“We dealt recently with a case where a victim dropped a charge in order to avoid the court procedure.

“We need to strengthen our laws so that children are more likely to tell.”

Research in the US suggests that one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused by their 18th birthday. It also shows that 88 per cent of abuse is never reported.

Ms Ray-Rivers added: “SCARS, was formed to create greater awareness on this topic and to provide education to adults who are responsible for the caretaking of children.

“Children are innocent and cannot protect themselves from this sexual self-serving crime. This is about older and powerful adults exerting their power over younger children and when we as adults do not tell our children about boundaries and appropriate touch then it can also be older children sexually abusing younger children.”

SCARS is running a Darkness to Light, Steward of Children certified training workshop on September 8 between 9am and 12pm.

The charity will also hold a Trained Facilitator course on September 15.

Those who complete the course and become Certified Trained Facilitators are able to train their  staff, coaches or teachers on how to recognize and prevent child sex abuse.

• For more information on the courses contact Debi Ray-Rivers at debi.ray-rivers@scars.bm