24-Hour Child Abuse Hotline to be Established


Cabinet has approved a proposal for the establishment of a 24-hour toll free hotline, for the reporting of cases of child abuse. The three-digit emergency number, 211, will be available seven days per week.
Making the announcement at yesterday’s (Nov. 12) post-Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House, Minister of Information, Culture, Youth and Sports, Olivia Grange, explained that the service, which will cost $23 million to mobilise, will be the first point of contact for an abused child. The funds will go towards human capital and the physical resources needed such as equipment, software, telecommunications, and physical infrastructure.
“Children are being encouraged to use this easy to remember number and it is there primarily for them to call if they have a concern, if they are being abused, or if there is any problem whatsoever…as we speak, they are putting it in place. The number has been identified, the funds have been approved. In order to ensure that it is something that can be put on stream immediately, the Office of the Children’s Registry, is designated as an emergency service entity,” Minister Grange told journalists.
The proposed shift cycle is 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.; 3:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.; and 11:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. Each shift will be manned by a senior registration officer, and two registration officers.
According to Miss Grange, this proposal for the hotline was brought to Cabinet by the Ministry of Health, under which the Child Development Agency falls. She informed that the service, which is also being supported by United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), was recommended by the Untied Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child.
She pointed out that under the Child Care and Protection Act, a range of prescribed persons, by virtue of their occupation “have a duty of care towards children.”
These are: physicians, dentists, or mental health professionals, administrators of hospital facilities, school principals, teachers or other teaching professionals, social workers or other social service professionals, owners/operators or employees of child day-care centres or other child-care institutions, and guidance counsellors, among others.

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