JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Children’s Advocate, Diahann Gordon-Harrison, is calling for an effective and responsive system of care that protects children from sexual and other forms of abuse.
  • She is also urging parents and adults to encourage children to confide in them by fostering a close, trusting relationship.
  • The Children’s Advocate urged awareness of the signs to identify children who need support, adding that children who have been victims of sexual abuse are also vulnerable to being victims of trafficking in persons.

Children’s Advocate, Diahann Gordon-Harrison, is calling for an effective and responsive system of care that protects children from sexual and other forms of abuse.

She is also urging parents and adults to encourage children to confide in them by fostering a close, trusting relationship.

Mrs. Gordon-Harrison was addressing a Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse Training Workshop, hosted by the Women’s Leadership Initiative (WLI) at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel, on November 2.

The workshop was used to train staff from the Allman Town Primary School on how to prevent, recognise and react responsibly to child sexual abuse.

The WLI has partnered with United States-based non-profit Darkness to Light: Stewards of Children, to deliver training to parents and educators that raises awareness of the prevalence and consequences of child sexual abuse.

The training of teachers is particularly relevant, since statistics indicate that educators are the source of 50 per cent of the abuse reports made by professionals to the authority.

Mrs. Gordon-Harrison endorsed the strategy by the WLI of using education as a means of stemming the trend of child sexual abuse.

“With targeted education being imparted by those who are qualified to do so, persons become more aware of the attitudes for the telltale signs to spot in children who are in trouble. You become more aware because education leads you and children to feel more empowered to speak up and to act,” she said.

“When you become more aware, you will also have the ability to help rescue a child victim or know how best to support a child who is in vulnerable situations,” Mrs. Gordon-Harrison added.

She said the Office of the Children’s Registry (OCR) informs that for the period 2007 to 2014, there were 16,790 reports of child sexual abuse locally, with 15,457 being in relation to girls.

She further noted that for 2015, 11 boys and 50 girls were alleged to have been sexually abused by persons in authority in spaces such as schools, children’s homes and places of safety.

For the January to September 2016 period, 17 boys and 90 girls were also alleged to have been sexually abused by persons in authority.

Meanwhile, she said the Centre for Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse (CISOCA), reports that from April 2015 to January 2016, there were 463 cases in which persons were charged for sexual intercourse with persons under 16.

The Children’s Advocate urged awareness of the signs to identify children who need support, adding that children who have been victims of sexual abuse are also vulnerable to being victims of trafficking in persons.

She encouraged the participants in the workshop to be receptive to the messages and insight provided.

The WLI/Darkness to Light: Stewards of Children training programme incorporates a combination of survivor stories, expert advice and practical guidance.