JIS: The Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, continues to strengthen the systems to facilitate reports of child abuse and provide support for victims.
“I think we always have to constantly reassess our systems to ensure that our children, who are the victims, that they are comfortable in filing these reports and that especially the psychological needs that they have are taken care of,” said State Minister in the Ministry, Hon. Floyd Green.
“I have been in constant dialogue with the CDA (Child Development Agency) in terms of strengthening those systems, ensuring that when they interact with the police, that our police…understand the situation and how to treat with it,” he added.
Mr. Green was speaking to JIS News on Monday (September 19) at the launch of the Office of the Children’s Registry’s (OCR) ‘Break the Silence’ school tours at the Ocho Rios Primary School in St. Ann.
He informed that a collaborative approach is being taken, involving various state agencies, to ensure that support is given to those who are affected.
He said a team of first responders has been set up to make that initial contact with any child who is suspected to have been a victim of abuse.
“The police understands that the CDA and the OCR must be called and we are working with the Office of the Children’s Advocate to ensure that the rights of our children are taken care of,” he noted further, adding that he has asked the CDA to strengthen its monitoring and evaluation systems.
The ‘Break the Silence’ tours aim to sensitise students, teachers and parents about child abuse, and how to identify and report known or suspected incidents.
Mr. Green said the focus on schools is deliberate. “We are taking a more targeted approach. We want to go into the schools, and the plan is… to empower our children so they can self-report,” he said.
“If they are having problems at home, we are saying to the children that (they) can go to (their) teachers. The other aspect is that we are saying to the teachers that they have a responsibility under the law to tell what they know, and if they suspect that a child is being abused, they should let the OCR know so that the CDA can start an investigation as well as the police can get involved,” he pointed out.
Mr. Green noted that teachers are strategically placed to detect any changes in the behaviour of their students.
During the tours, school leaders will be trained on what to look for and how to address abuse.
Monday’s launch of the islandwide school tours was also addressed by Registrar of the OCR, Greig Smith and representatives from the CDA and the police force.
CAPTION: State Minister for Education, Youth and Information, Hon. Floyd Green, interacts with students of the Ocho Rios Primary School in St. Ann, during a visit to the institution on Monday (September 19) for the launch of the Office of the Children’s Registry (OCR) islandwide ‘Break the Silence’ school tours.