Divide and Conquer

There are attempts to confuse Barbadians on the contents of the Child Protection Bill (2023). First the facts.

Submitted by Dr. Grenville Phillips II

Fact 1: The Child Protection Bill (2023) is designed to punish anyone who abuses children.

Fact 2: The Bill punishes parents, teachers, pastors and anyone who abuses children by making them liable for: (i) fines of $100,000, (ii) imprisonment for 10 years, and (iii) removal of the children if the abuser is a parent.


Every person who cares about children is reasonably expected to support this Bill – and I did. How could anyone morally not support it? How could anyone side with abusers of children – especially if you are a parent? In piloting the Bill through Parliament, the Minister went on an emotional rant and wanted the fine to be one million dollars – his heart seemed to be in the right place.

I read the Bill because I try to read all Bills that the Government plans to pass – as a service to the public. I found that the Bill: (i) punishes anyone who abuses children, and (ii) defines abuse to include sexual abuse on the Internet. I agree with both measures. So, why not just pass it already as many of our social commentators have insisted? Because that would be irresponsibly reckless – it is better to do a critical review first.


The problem with the Bill is that there are provisions hidden throughout the Bill that make all parents, teachers, and others who care for children guilty of abuse – and liable for severe fines and imprisonments. This is done by expanding the definition of abuse to include normal responsible actions of caring parents, teachers and caregivers.

Some parents want to include spanking as a tool for disciplining unruly children. Some teachers may need to resort to raising their voice to maintain control of unruly students. The Bill as drafted will turn those parents and teachers into criminals – so I wrote and marched against it.


The definitions of abuse are included in Section 2. Some of the more concerning ones follow.

Emotional abuse includes the use of threatening words or behaviour. Therefore, parents and teachers who threaten unruly children with sanctions are to be the new abusers.

Physical abuse includes any act which causes pain to the body of a child. Therefore, parents who spank their unruly children are to be the new abusers.

Verbal abuse includes the use of negative language or communication to manipulate or control another person, which can be communicated by silence or shouting. Some parents and teachers try to control unruly children by speaking loudly to them. If they are not perfect in their speech, or non-speech, they are to be the new abusers.


Some of the criminal penalties for the new abusers follow.

A person who does not report abuse is guilty, and liable to a fine of $20 000 or imprisonment for 2 years or both. (Section 21.7)

A person who intimidates the Director as he takes away her children is guilty, and liable to a fine of $10 000 or imprisonment of one year or both. (Section 28.9). Why not define intimidation so that parents may know where the line is?

A person who obstructs or threatens the Director or his staff as they take away her children is guilty, and liable to a fine of $25 000 or imprisonment for 5 years or both. (Section 63) How do we expect responsible parents to react while their children are being dragged away? Why lock responsible parents up for 5 years for simply trying to protect their children from the Director.


A person who imposes corporal punishment or severe or frightening measures on a child placed in a child care centre is guilty and liable to a fine of $10 000 or imprisonment for 2 years or both. (Section 59.1) Severe and frightening measures should be defined so that workers in child care facilities know where the line is.

A person who abuses a child, exposes a child to abuse, or fails to protect a child from abuse is guilty, and liable to a fine of $100 000 or imprisonment for 10 years or both. (Section 61) This would be fine if the definition of abuse was not so widely defined to include normal responsible parenting actions.


I believe that our elected representatives who supported this Bill were well meaning. But this attempt to criminalise so many responsible Barbadians for doing what is in the best interest of their children, should be a wakeup call for them to critically review all legislation that they are told to support.

There appear to be two explanations for the offensive Bill. One is that it was so poorly written that the criminalisation of parents and teachers was a coincidence of incompetence. That seems unlikely given their public defence that the Bill clearly states its intentions. The other explanation is more troubling.

The drafters may genuinely view parents who spank their children as abusive irredeemable criminals – perhaps based on their own childhood experiences of genuine abuse. Rather than engage in an evidence-based discussion with those with whom they disagree, they are trying to use the Laws of Barbados to bankrupt and imprison them. I invite those who support the Bill as drafted to offer an alternative explanation of the evidence.

Grenville Phillips II is a Doctor of Engineering and a Chartered Structural Engineer. He can be reached at NextParty246@gmail.com

47 thoughts on “Divide and Conquer

    • You may be able to read but you are not understanding what the various definitions of each type of abuse makes possible.

      Take for example this definition from page 14
      “physical abuse” means any act or omission by a perpetrator which causes pain or injury to the body of a child and includes bullying;

      If I see you out with your child and your child picks up a dead lizard and you slap the child and harshly say don’t do that. If I was to report you as I am required to and your child goes before the judge and says yes he felt pain when you slapped him, are you not guilty of physical abuse based on the definition in the law.

      The problem is the vague definitions allowing overzealous authorities the ability to threaten, target and prosecute.

      We are now in an era where common sense is no longer common and laws must be specific in their definitions to avoid targeting as the authorities use the letter of what is written in litigation and not the intent.

    • What is the definition that should be used instead to erase any doubt? The law is a guide, this is where the CCB and others have to make coherent reports to ensure actions taken are supported. These are soft issues.

    • It is not alarmist. It is what is written in the Bill. It defines when you are guilty and the associated punishments.

      Your options are to either leave the broad net of abuse in place, and depend entirely on the mercy of the court not to sentence you to the extent that the Bill provides, or to have the definition of abuse narrowed to severe harm.

      The problems with the first option are still within recent memory.

      During COVID, a fellow was fined $7,000 for leaving his curtilage. A visitor from a neighboring island was sentenced to prison for crossing the road outside of Harrison Point to get a drink. He was sentenced to prison – and died in prison. Some lost their humanity during COVID.

      After reading and writing about excessive and unnecessary punishments one can get numb – and no longer alarmed or concerned with the victims or potential victims. You are providing a good public service. I hope that you have not reached that numb limit.

    • @Grenville

      The court does not operate as you suggest when it comes to these matters. All actors in this affair need to take a deep breath.

    • David, I read the Bill, as was mentioned on the previous thread, and, was careful to ‘say’ I disagreed with his interpretation thereof. He seems to be suggesting a mother, for example, risks being fined, imprisoned or both…… on the child would be ‘taken away,’ if she simply spanks him/her. I believe there are significant differences between giving a child a ‘few lashes’ with a belt and beating him/her with a ‘cutlass,’ as seen in a social media video, months ago, in which a mother was shown brutally beating her daughter with the ‘flat side’ of a cutlass. That was subsequently arrested and charged. But, according to Grenville that mother should be given ‘a pat on the back’ and allowed to administer brutality as she sees fit, without any repercussions whatsoever.

    • Artax:

      As I have explained, the punishments are fine for the abusers. The problem is with the wide definition of abuse.

      If a mild spanking causes pain to the child, then according to the Bill, that is abuse that attracts a $100,000 fine and 10 years imprisonment.

      If that is not what is intended, then why fight so hard not to narrow the definition. If it is what is intended, then the effort to fight to keep the definitions as wide as they are in the Bill is explained.

    • @David
      A more appropriate definition could be
      “physical abuse” means repeated acts by a perpetrator likely to cause serious injury and or permanent disfigurement to the body of a child.

      Any abuse definition must include some pattern of repeat actions.

      A one time occurrence causing serious injury e.g. broken arm or hospital treatment can be treated separately under our bodily assault law.

  1. Corporal punishment has been banned in schools in most countries

    people should stop spinning yarns with hypothetical scenarios about their right to slap and should change their their ways and think towards a new enlightenment

    Corporal punishment in the context of schools in the late 20th and early 21st centuries has been variously defined as: causing deliberate pain to a child in response to the child’s undesired behavior and/or language, “purposeful infliction of bodily pain or discomfort by an official in the educational system

    • Interestingly, I haven’t heard any discussion of any intension to ban corporal punishment in the home or at schools, as it relates to the Bill.

  2. CA, your lizzard example is more so ludicrous than your attempt to introduce Trump into the discussion. So, someone sees you ‘harshly disciple your child for picking up a dead lizzard,’ calls the police, who immediates arrest and charge you for an offense, for which you are subsequently taken to Court. And penalised after your child testifies against you. Perhaps you’re making a mockery of critical analysis.

    • The letter of the law states “pain”. It does not specify severity of the pain.

      Granted, it is an extreme example highly unlikely to happen but you must agree there is nothing in the law preventing a judge having a bad day or not liking the way you defend yourself from making that judgement in that scenario.

      Laws must never be subject to broad interpretation.

    • This extract is from Texas, USA, a country that is ultra sensitive about child abuse.

      “Legally, What Child Abuse and Neglect Are

      In Texas, the definitions of child abuse and neglect include specific acts or omissions by a person responsible for a child’s care, custody or welfare. Here are important legal definitions from Section 261.001 of the Texas Family Code.

      “Abuse” includes the following acts or omissions by a person:

      mental or emotional injury to a child that results in an observable and material impairment in the child’s growth, development, or psychological functioning;
      causing or permitting the child to be in a situation in which the child sustains a mental or emotional injury that results in an observable and material impairment in the child’s growth, development, or psychological functioning;
      physical injury that results in substantial harm to the child, or the genuine threat of substantial harm from physical injury to the child, including an injury that is at variance with the history or explanation given and excluding an accident or reasonable discipline by a parent, guardian, or managing or possessory conservator that does not expose the child to a substantial risk of harm;
      failure to make a reasonable effort to prevent an action by another person that results in physical injury that results in substantial harm to the child;
      sexual conduct harmful to a child’s mental, emotional, or physical welfare, including conduct that constitutes the offense of continuous sexual abuse of young child or disabled individual under Section 21.02, Penal Code, indecency with a child under Section 21.11, Penal Code, sexual assault under Section 22.011, Penal Code, or aggravated sexual assault under Section 22.021, Penal Code;
      failure to make a reasonable effort to prevent sexual conduct harmful to a child;
      compelling or encouraging the child to engage in sexual conduct as defined by Section 43.01, Penal Code, including compelling or encouraging the child in a manner that constitutes an offense of trafficking of persons under Section 20A.02(a)(7) or (8), Penal Code, solicitation of prostitution under Section 43.021, Penal Code, or compelling prostitution under Section 43.05(a)(2), Penal Code;
      causing, permitting, encouraging, engaging in, or allowing the photographing, filming, or depicting of the child if the person knew or should have known that the resulting photograph, film, or depiction of the child is obscene as defined by Section 43.21, Penal Code, or pornographic;
      the current use by a person of a controlled substance as defined by Chapter 481, Health and Safety Code, in a manner or to the extent that the use results in physical, mental, or emotional injury to a child;
      causing, expressly permitting, or encouraging a child to use a controlled substance as defined by Chapter 481, Health and Safety Code;
      causing, permitting, encouraging, engaging in, or allowing a sexual performance by a child as defined by Section 43.25, Penal Code;
      knowingly causing, permitting, encouraging, engaging in, or allowing a child to be trafficked in a manner punishable as an offense under Section 20A.02(a)(5), (6), (7), or (8), Penal Code, or the failure to make a reasonable effort to prevent a child from being trafficked in a manner punishable as an offense under any of those sections; or
      forcing or coercing a child to enter into a marriage.”


  3. Those two probably think that judges are fools And don’t know / can’t tell the difference between a tough love slap for correction purposes as against abuse

    Another false they are pushing is about paying a lawyer . If the accuse doesn’t have a lawyer then the government have to provide and pay for one. if someone is sentenced and think they are innocent / punish is too harsh there are courts of appeal etc etc

  4. You are being overly ridiculous by implying a parent who simply simply spanks his daughter, for example, faces the possibility of being taken to Court and harshly reprimanded by a ‘judge who, at some point in time, may or may not be having a bad day,’…… in the absence of an investigation, which would determine whether or not the accused should be charged with an offense, and against the background that laws have not been passed to ban corporal punishment in the home.

    • The definitions are poorly written allowing the ridiculous to happen.

      If spanking causes pain, under the definition in the law it is physical abuse.

      Once you have caused physical abuse, you are at the mercy of the CCB, etc.

      Forget what you and me consider to be abuse as in extreme acts and look at the words written in the law. That is what the CCB and judges will follow and if the definition is too broad, people are vulnerable to being targeted for investigation by their opponents.

  5. Are you imply judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys are too simple minded te determine what constitutes pain as a result of abuse? Soon you will ‘say’ if a parent accidentally ‘mash’ his/her son’s foot, and someone hears when he shouts, ‘aye,’ and calls the CCB, that parent faces the likelihood of being imediately charged with abuse. And the Judge would convict him/her, without even considering the totality of circumstances concerning the issue. If you believe the Bill’s definitions are “too broad,” okay. But presenting absurd examples to emphasise your opinion, ‘just ain’t cutting it.’ Additionally, it does not necessarily means an investigation would be conducted each time an ‘opponent’ makes a complaint against his/her perceived enemy. A particular pattern develops in those types of situation, and the ‘relationship history’ of the persons involved, are some of the ‘red flags’ that alert investigator to further determine whether or not the ‘opponent’s’ intentions are malicious.

    • **** implying…. types of situations…. alert investigators……

    • What I am implying is
      1) the way the law is written, especially with regard to the broad definitions and mandatory reporting has the potential to have the CCB investigating numerous frivolous reports because too many things can be called abuse under the law.

      2) judges, investigators and prosecutors with axes to grind against individuals for personal, political or other reasons can use the loopholes in the law to harass individuals. We all know people who have been harassed for one reason or another.

  6. “But presenting absurd examples to emphasise your opinion, ‘just ain’t cutting it.’ ”

    But, what happens if a child beats himself up, to set up his parents for not letting him stay up late to watch TV..

  7. “More shiite. Can I expect a youtube video next?”

    Presumably you have never been to Court* to witness their shiite.
    (*) as a defendant

    • My friend, “presumably I’ve been to Court” on more occasions than you. Enough of you and that.

  8. A couple of questions for the crimes of child abuse
    will the guilty have criminal records
    will they be put on a register to prevent them working with children

  9. I already gave an opinion in my 2:54 PM contribution. Even though you have gone on to include “judges, investigators and prosecutors with axes to grind,” you are repeating yourself…… the discussion is going aroud in circles. Let us ‘agree to disagree’ and move on.

  10. Difficult to assess Ground zero.
    Bread and butter issues now follow.

    1. Surprise at how few tourists (white) that I saw. My unscientific poll lead me to conclude ‘the low numbers do not support the claims made by officials.

    2. Impressed by the hustle of the average Barbadian. Saw more small businesses than before.

    3.There was a horrible road in St Lucy that I could not forget (for years). Made it my business to visit the road and was pleasantly surprised by its improved state.

    4. Prices are high. Bought a lot of chefette on my daily excursion. Wife thought that was good value for money.

    5. Went to a few nice restaurants. Hope the word nice does not give dpD a stroke (expensive bursted a vein in his brain). Thought most of them were overpriced. Some think that if you light a few fires outside then you can burn people wallets. The food tasted nice.

    6. My issue resolved itself. Bajan price and US price were within acceptable ranges. Will check again.

    7. Love the confidence of Bajan women. It’s a mystery how they get into their pants, tight, tight tight, but all the women were beautiful and moved with purpose. I caught myself sharing a smile with one and had to put on the brakes.

    8. Surprise at the size of many of the houses. Some Bajans are doing very well.

    9. If I had to buy the number of mangos that I ate I would be bankrupt. A neighbor of my friend would drop by with a bag full every evening. It was good to see people still giving and sharing with each other. Conspiracy theory: I thought Mia discovered my cave and was trying use my diabetes to her advantage, but I survived.

    On the whole, a pleasant experience. Go Barbados.

    Normal programming will now resume.
    Did not meet Ronnie O
    But de man sweet so

    • @Artax

      Did you hear Marsha Hinds’ view expressed today that the Bill under discussion does not address state violence against children? Meaning when state agencies abuse children. She also expressed reservation about the inability of our Courts as currently constructed to fairly deal with matters arising in the proposed legislation.


  11. Been reading the contributions on this post.
    Taking a poll now
    Headed to the Hall of Fame
    Headed to the Hall of Shame

    Anyhow, I am back and will try to raise the level of the game

    • David
      Para 61 refers to? Isn’t a building already identified and judges being trained for a dedicated Family Court?

    • @enuff

      A functional family court has been promised for some time. The issue those is that there is an assumption being made that it will fair no better than what obtains presently.

    • That said we can’t design laws to work around what a functioning court is supposed to do. We have to fix the problems with the court system.

    • @ David & Enuff
      Define a ‘functional court’ please.
      No such animal has existed in this jurisdiction now for many decades…
      ..unless of course the function is to enrich lawyers and defend high officials from due process..

    • @Bush Tea

      Shouldn’t we aspire to building a functional court, society or any construct for that matter? The point here is that the law as written must presume a functional judiciary.

    • @ David
      Surely, you jest….

      We should all aspire to be happy and to go to heaven and to live happily ever afterwards….. duh!!
      But after age 5 we all know that this is a fairy tale, and by age 12 we mostly understand that the road to Hell is the one that is paved with good intentions and assumptions.

      The POINT HERE is that ‘success’ is related to PRACTICAL actions, that actually solve problems which currently exist, and which ofter require unpleasant and uncomfortable ACTIONS.

      … so the road to building a functional society is UN-related to ‘good intentions’ and fancy PR, and actually directly attached to common sense and practicality…. commodities that has been taken from us…

    • Hants
      This new GoCB is an interesting fellow.
      Apply for permission to convert dividends paid in $BDD to Fx. Unless the shares were ‘grandfathered’ (had CBB permission) it ain’t happening.
      Now I am guessing, to get paid BOSS+ in Fx, means you must buy using Fx?

  12. 1
    A functional family court has been promised for some time. The issue those is that there is an assumption being made that it will fair no better than what obtains presently.
    That said we can’t design laws to work around what a functioning court is supposed to do. We have to fix the problems with the court system.
    The adversarial process is not fit for purpose
    The new mindset as a result is (a) don’t get married (b) don’t use lawyers
    (c) children see the truth and cut off the mothers when they turn 18

    The only way for fathers to get the most basic human rights (which is not a victory it is just a draw and is fundamental) is to tear down the system

  13. David, unfortunately, I did not hear the views Marsha Hinds expressed on the Bill currently under discussion. However, I agree measures to deal with the abuse of children at state owned agencies should be included therein. I believe the establishment of a ‘dedicated family Court,’ as described by paragraph 61, may address the concerns she raised relative to the fair prosecution of matters arising from the Bill.

  14. David…… next on the list, should be legislation for any abuse of the elderly. There has also been a reported in the number of elderly persons being ‘abandoned’ at state-owned health care institutions, by their relatives. But, opposing arguments may suggest that, after a child was verbably, emotionally, physically and financially abused his/her parents, he/she isn’t under any obligation to take care of them. Or, ‘we does pay taxes, so de guv’ment should take care of them.’

  15. Looks like there will be a third party candidate in the Presidential elections.

    Keep on pushing Grenville!!

    • And Johnboy licking his chops, cause he knows the bulk of whatever votes he gets aren’t coming from GOP voters 😂😂

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