Minister of State in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, Hon. Alando Terrelonge, says the Government continues to put measures in place to protect the rights and well-being of the nation’s children.
He noted that a National Plan of Action for an Integrated Response to Children and Violence (NPACV) has been adopted, providing an inter-sectoral response to treating with violence against children.
The National Plan of Action is in keeping with Jamaica’s commitment to the Global Partnership to end violence against children and will be implemented over a five-year period.
The goal is to create and maintain a protective environment that is responsive to the issues of violence, child abuse and maltreatment of children in Jamaica.
“So, essentially, it seeks to re-educate Jamaicans, to re-educate our parents, so we are teaching them about ways to protect their children, the different forms of abuse and how you can also get help, which is very important,” he said.
Mr. Terrelonge was addressing a virtual child protection town hall on June 17, organised by the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA).
The State Minister informed that more guidance counsellors have received training to better deal with children, who may require such intervention, particularly when they return to the physical school environment in September.
He reminded parents and children that “it’s okay to reach out and ask for help”.
“One of the things we recognise is that some 30 per cent of our Jamaican children or youth and adolescents… actually suffer from some sort of mental disorder, so it’s important for us to get them that help within the school system, within a structured classroom setting, so there are plans to put that in place,” he noted.
Mr. Terrelonge said, as well, that the CPFSA, over the last two years, has hired more social workers to assist in clearing the backlog of cases of child abuse.
“What that has done is that we have seen a 100 per cent clearing up of the backlog in investigating the cases,” he said.
Mr. Terrelonge emphasised the need for parents and guardians to protect the nation’s youth, noting that while strides have been made, more needs to be done.
“It behoves every single Jamaican to understand that as a nation, as a community of people, it is our responsibility to love our children, to protect them and ensure their safety,” he said.
Chief Executive Officer, CPFSA, Rosalee Gage Gray, for her part, said parents need to be continuously educated on what it means to protect their children.
“Sometimes, we feel that they know, but not everybody knows how to protect their children,” she contended.
Persons who know or suspect that a child is being abused, can call 888-PROTECT, email: [email protected] or visit any CPFSA office island-wide.