JIS News

Children’s Advocate, Mary Clarke, has called on caregivers as well as children to come forward with information regarding child abuse, noting that the culture of silence in Jamaica about child abuse must be broken.
“We want children to come out and to talk, we want adults to come out and report.we want change to begin with the children,” Mrs. Clarke stated as she addressed the final of five island-wide consultations yesterday at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston, to educate the public about children’s rights and about the different agencies in place to protect children.
The consultations were organized by the Office of the Children’s Advocate as part of its mandate to undertake public education activities regarding the functions of the organization.
Among the duties of the OCD are to: provide legal representation for children who go before the courts; consult with children and their caregivers in order to be better informed about issues impacting children; review laws, practices and policies relating to child rights; investigate complaints made by children/or on their behalf; and to educate the public about the Child Care and Protection Act.
“We must consult with children. We need to hear from the children before we make recommendations concerning the best interests of children,” Mrs. Clarke said.
Meanwhile, judge in the Corporate Area Family and Children’s Courts, Pansy Primo-Griffith, pointed to the need for students to be educated about the Office of the Children’s Advocate.
“Since the school is one of the few institutions in Jamaica through which all children pass, a special part of the school curriculum, at all levels, should be dedicated to sensitize children about the roles and functions of the Children’s Advocate,” she stated.Such a programme, Mrs. Griffith said, should aim at ensuring that all children know where the office is found and the relevant telephone numbers. She also suggested that a three-digit hotline number be established, to make emergency contact with the office.
Teachers, guidance counsellors and students from several primary schools took part in today’s exercise.The consultations were funded by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

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