Press Release

Ministry of Health & Social Development
Social Development
Release Date:
Tuesday, 11 July 2017 - 3:55pm

Child protection workers benefit from a week long specialized training to build professional knowledge and skills to prevent and respond to child abuse and neglect.

Chief Social Development Officer Mrs. Annie Malone Frett said that the training, which runs from July 10 to 14, addresses the issue of child abuse and exploitation and the expectation is for participants to be better equipped professionals.

She stated, “At the end of the day, our efforts are geared towards having a coordinated response… A training of this magnitude helps us to say to the public that we are going to be accountable to you and to ensure that our Territory’s children are safe and remain safe from any form of harm or abuse.”

The training workshop has a total for 31 participants who represent a cross section of agencies accountable for child protection. These include the Social Development Department, the Ministry of Education and Culture, the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force, the BVI Health Services Authority and two visiting Social Workers from the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Social Development, Mrs. Petrona Davies said that the trainings are an extension of the Ministry’s comprehensive approach to safeguarding the Territory’s children.

She explained that child abuse has been an issue of high priority and went on to highlight a number of ongoing policy initiatives in relation to child protection.

“We [The Ministry of Health and Social Development] signed the Children Protection Protocol [and] established a child abuse investigative team among the various agencies that respond to child abuse cases; we have the annual Break the Silence campaign against child abuse; we recently launched a Darkness to Light training programme for community leaders [in collaboration with the BVI Red Cross]; we are working to modernize our legislation in line with international standards, and most recently we have been working to introduce child friendly budgeting,” said Permanent Secretary Davies.

She also explained that the Territory’s child protection system has had a number of assessments conducted and it is out of those reports, the Ministry is working to address the gaps that were identified. She extended appreciation to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) for funding the training workshop along with several other ongoing projects, and for their continued technical and financial assistance to the Government and children of the Virgin Islands. .

This week’s training is facilitated by Dr. Clarissa Benjamin-Smith with the goal of enhancing the capacity of Social Workers and other child protection professionals in the execution of their duties.  A child protection manual is also being developed to provide the foundation for effective casework practices in the British Virgin Islands.

Dr. Clarissa Benjamin-Smith holds master and doctorate degrees in clinical psychology and has worked in the field of social services for over 20 years.  She has developed a number of pre-service and in-service training programmes for child welfare agencies and educational institutions both in Georgia and New York, U.S.A.

The Ministry of Health and Social Development aspires to provide a caring and integrated system of health and social services that facilitates human development and improves the quality of life in the Virgin Islands. 

1.Mrs. Annie Malone Frett, Chief Social Development Officer
2.Mrs. Petrona Davies, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Social Development

Photo: Photographed are the social workers and child protection professionals on the first day of the capacity training held on July 10 to 14, 2017. (Photo Credit: Ronnielle/GIS)


Adrianna J. Soverall

Ministry of Health and Social Development
Tortola, British Virgin Islands
Telephone: 1(284)468-2272 or 2174