JSIF Supports ‘Break the Silence’ Campaign to Protect Children

Story Highlights

  • The Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) has provided support to the Office of the Children’s Registry (OCR) ‘Break the Silence’ campaign in the sum of $11.9 million through the Basic Needs Trust Fund.
  • The Break the Silence campaign is an initiative with a multi-pronged approach to protect children against abuse.
  • The Break the Silence campaign was first launched during the period 2015-16 and it featured several prominent celebrities and business leaders encouraging persons to report physical, sexual and emotional abuse of children.

The Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) has provided support to the Office of the Children’s Registry (OCR) ‘Break the Silence’ campaign in the sum of $11.9 million through the Basic Needs Trust Fund.

The Break the Silence campaign is an initiative with a multi-pronged approach to protect children against abuse.

It aims to reach victims and their families with a message to speak out and denounce child abuse and break the stigma of shame that surrounds the issue of child sexual abuse as a first step to help.

It was developed after an islandwide survey showed that for every 10 adults who admitted that they knew about cases of child abuse, only one was willing to come forward to make a report.

Project Manager of the Basic Needs Trust Fund, Celia Dillon, tells JIS News that the JSIF is assisting the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, under which the campaign falls, to inform persons on the importance of reporting instances of child abuse.

She informs that the JSIF funded the extension of the campaign last year at a cost of $4.8 million, with an additional $7.1 million towards the production of a storybook, which is to come on stream. There is also a training segment to be undertaken.

The extended ‘Break the Silence’ campaign ran from June to December 2016 and included radio and television advertisements, and information posted on social media platforms.

“We assisted the OCR directly in their school tours, focusing mainly on (six) of our schools targeted under the Basic Needs Trust Fund… teaching the students how to report, identify and respond to instances of abuse against children,” Ms. Dillon explains.

The six schools were: Mandeville Primary, Christiana Moravian Primary and Infant, Old Harbour Primary, Ocho Rios Primary, Discovery Bay All-Age, and Brown’s Hall Primary.

The school tours took the form of open day discussions with representatives from the OCR, Office of the Children’s Advocate and the Child Development Agency.

“Guidance Counsellors in those schools have informed that there has been an increase in cases reported to them. On one side that is sad to hear, but on the other side, the school tours worked and the kids felt comfortable in going to their guidance counsellors to let them know what has been happening to them,” Ms. Dillon says.

She notes that the local television and radio aspect of the campaign is finished and efforts are being made to get more funding.

“We are constantly trying to see if we can get additional partners to help us along this journey. We see how relevant it is…we are seeing too much of it in our papers now and our children absolutely need help,” the Project Manager adds.

Meanwhile, training workshops are to be held with Ministry of Education Regional Officers, principals, teachers, and Parent-Teacher Association Executives on how to conduct readings with students using the storybook.

Ms. Dillon tells JIS News it is hoped that the book will be released and launched by April this year. The book has received approval from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information and will be added to the Family Life curriculum.

The Storybook package will include: a full colour illustrated storybook, accompanying DVD with illustrations, narration, sign language translation, music and an accompanying teacher’s guide.

The message of identifying, responding and reporting abuse is appropriately packaged into a story to suit the target audience of children eight to 12 years old.

There will also be 60 Braille copies of the book, as requested by the Ministry’s Special Education Unit, for distribution in schools.

“This book is targeting vulnerable groups, so it is extremely important that when we are getting this message out there, it gets to all persons who may be affected by cases of child abuse,” Ms. Dillon says.

A mandatory parents’ forum is to be held in each school one to three months after principals and staff have been engaged.

The Break the Silence campaign was first launched during the period 2015-16 and it featured several prominent celebrities and business leaders encouraging persons to report physical, sexual and emotional abuse of children.

The programme, supported by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), was a direct response to the ‘Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices’ survey on child maltreatment in Jamaica, which the OCR commissioned with technical and financial support from UNICEF.

The OCR received more than 44,000 reports of child abuse for the period 2007-2014.

Persons can make a report of child abuse to the OCR by sending an email to: report@ocr.gov.jm; or by visiting the four OCR offices located in Kingston, Manchester, St. Mary and Westmoreland.

Persons can also call the OCR toll free at: 1-888- PROTECT (776-8328) (Flow) Tel: 908-2132, 908-2143 (Flow); 618-5888 (Digicel landline); 754-9133 (Flow); 631-8933 (Flow); 631-8908 (Flow); Cell: 822-7031 (Flow) 878-2882 (Digicel); and Fax: 908-2579.

JIS Social