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  • Children’s Advocate, Diahann Gordon Harrison, says the just-concluded Regional Caribbean Conference of the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (ISPCAN) was a tremendous success and that it was “the right forum at the right time”.
  • Speaking to reporters at the end of the conference on December 5 in Montego Bay, Mrs. Gordon Harrison said the Office of the Children’s Advocate (OCA) was delighted to be joint host of the event, noting that the prevention of, and response to all forms of abuse, neglect, exploitation and violence towards children was one of the big takeaways.

Children’s Advocate, Diahann Gordon Harrison, says the just-concluded Regional Caribbean Conference of the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (ISPCAN) was a tremendous success and that it was “the right forum at the right time”.

Speaking to reporters at the end of the conference on December 5 in Montego Bay, Mrs. Gordon Harrison said the Office of the Children’s Advocate (OCA) was delighted to be joint host of the event, noting that the prevention of, and response to all forms of abuse, neglect, exploitation and violence towards children was one of the big takeaways.

“The work of the OCA, as well as ISPCAN, is to ensure that children are given the best opportunities to live a life of safety and well-being, with protection in their families and communities,” she said.

“We all have a responsibility to protect our children from child abuse, neglect, exploitation and violence. That was the central theme throughout the four days of the conference,” Mrs. Gordon Harrison added.

For her part, Marcia Brown, a teacher and caregiver from St. Ann, said the conference’s theme regarding child protection realities in a changing world, “not only struck a chord” but “highlighted some of the challenges we face and the need for us to redouble our efforts in protecting our children”.

In the meantime, Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Senator the Hon. Ruel Reid, said that not only was the conference timely but it served to bring a spotlight on a number of topics relating to the safeguarding of children and the protection of their rights.

“This is something the Ministry has been talking about a lot…the need to protect and ensure that priority is given to children’s safety, welfare and well-being at all times,” he noted.

Senator Reid said he is in agreement with ISPCAN’s position that it is the responsibility of States and Governments, leaders and communities, families and caregivers, individuals and civil society organisations to ensure that children are protected in all circumstances.

“The Ministry of Education, Youth and Information also shares the view that child abuse, neglect and exploitation are deeply harmful to all aspects of a child’s development and violate their rights.

Violence in any form towards children is a no-no and must be strongly condemned,” he said.

The conference, which ran from December 2 to 5, was held in partnership with the OCA, under the theme ‘Child Protection Realities within a Changing Caribbean and World’.

Other countries that participated included Switzerland, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States (US).

ISPCAN is the world’s premier society for professionals working to prevent child abuse and child neglect