JIS: Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Senator the Hon. Ruel Reid, is reminding Jamaicans that they have a responsibility under the Child Care and Protection Act to report known and suspected cases of child abuse.
He said a 2013 survey by the Office of the Children’s Registry (OCR), which tested people’s knowledge, attitude, practices and behaviour towards child maltreatment in Jamaica, revealed that 90 per cent of known cases of child abuse remain unreported by the adults, who knew what was going on.
“It is alarming to think of the many children who continue to suffer in silence because they either don’t know to whom they should report these matters or are otherwise convinced not to make reports,” Senator Reid said.
“We all must see it as an imperative to do what is within our power to ensure that attention is given to children, who fall into these very difficult situations where they are exploited and abused,” he added.
He was speaking at the Protect the Children Symposium at The Mico University College in Kingston on July 27.
The event was organised by the United States-based Diaspora group, Female Development World Organization, as part of activities for Diaspora Day of Service.
The Education Minister further encouraged Jamaicans to make every effort to be informed about the issues and become familiar with the possible signs that a child has or is being abused.
He said children affected by abuse can become withdrawn or be extra sensitive to touch for example.
“We all have a collective responsibility to our children and we must come together to ensure their protection. Whether it is in our homes, our communities or at the national level, each of us must identify and carry out our roles,” Senator Reid said.
President of the Female Development World Organization, Lavern Deer, said the entity “cares about the protection of our children.”
She said the symposium was held to draw attention to the issue of child abuse, which affects countries across the globe.
She said the United Nations Children’s Fund reports that girls, ages 11 to 17, face the brunt of sexual abuse in Jamaica. In the United States, one in five girls is abused before the age of 18.
“What this shows us is that we have a global problem …when it comes to child sex abuse,” she pointed out.
Ms. Deer said the organisation was pleased to have partnered with Eve for Life and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade in the staging of the symposium.
The OCR, which began operations in January 2007, is responsible for receiving, recording and assessing reports of child abuse and referring them to agencies for investigation and action.
Data from the OCR reveal that over 60,000 cases of child sexual abuse were reported up to 2015.
Persons wishing to make a report to the OCR can call 1-888-PROTECT
(1-888-776-8328) or 908-2132, 822-7031, 878-2882, 618-5888, 631-8933 and 631-8908.
Persons can also complete a reporting form and submit it to the OCR’s head office at 12 Carlton Crescent, Kingston 10, or fax to 908-2579 or email it to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
CAPTION: Senator the Honourable Ruel Reid, Minister of Education, Youth and Information