Feature
Regional Director of the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA), North-east Region, Carolyn Stewart, addresses citizens in Golden Grove, St. Ann, recently, during a child-protection drive-through of several communities in the parish.
Photo: Serena Grant

To spread the message and emphasise the importance of protecting children, the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA) staged a drive-through in St. Ann recently, making stops in Breadnut Hill, Colgate and Golden Grove.

During the drive-through of the communities, representatives from the CPFSA spoke to residents about the importance of child protection and urged them to report suspected cases of abuse. They were also given educational material that highlights the roles and functions of the Agency.

In her address to residents of Golden Grove, Regional Director of the CPFSA, north-east region, Carolyn Stewart, encouraged persons to report suspected cases of child abuse and to play their role in the protection of children in their community.

“We are all here simply to send a message that we have to do it together, we have to collaborate and all of us have to play our part. So, we are asking you, Golden Grove, to come alongside us, commit to working with us.  The CPFSA is on the ground, our message is always the same – we have to protect our children,” she said.

“Remember, you have an obligation to report to the National Children’s Registry by calling 888-PROTECT. You do not have to leave your name, you do not have to leave your information unless you choose to, you will remain anonymous, but what it will do is it will give even one child a chance,” Mrs. Stewart emphasised.

She also highlighted that children can report any abuse they may be undergoing.

“If it is that you begin to feel uncomfortable with any adult, there is a way that you can call and self-report,” she pointed out.

The drive-through was held in partnership with several government agencies, including the Ministry of Justice, the Jamaica Constabulary Force and the National Council on Drug Abuse.

Leteacher Ennis, Corporal of police in the St. Ann Division assigned to the Community Safety and Security Branch, hailed the CPFSA child-protection drive-through as timely.

“It’s things like this our [branch] is very interested in. Oftentimes we come and we are here [in communities] by ourselves, but this time we have a full support [system]; several agencies are here and it is very good,” Corporal Ennis told JIS News.

“Children want something that they can look up to and aspire to be, and when they see that there are so many persons behind them willing to assist them with getting all that they need, then it is a good look for our children,” she added.

Corporal Ennis also encouraged parents to know where their children are at all times to ensure that they are safe.

Meanwhile, residents are lauding the effort by the CPFSA to bring awareness to the importance of child protection.

Guidance Counsellor at Golden Grove All-Age School in St. Ann, Georgia Plunkett, told JIS News that children should be loved and cared for and their parents must give them a listening ear, because “sometimes they, too, have problems and we should help in solving them”.

Mrs. Plunkett said that one of the ways in which she protects her children is knowing their whereabouts at all times.

“I ensure that I know where my children are all the time. I also make sure to provide for them, so that they do not go out of their way. I also ensure that they get their education and ensure that they are loved and cared for,” she added.

Meanwhile, her daughter, eight-year-old Camilla Plunkett, told JIS News that another aspect of child protection which her parents employ, is to ensure she is accompanied by them when going out for walks in her community, as well as to adequately provide for her and her sibling.

For her part, Golden Grove resident, Beverly Beecher, also underscored the importance of protecting children.

Mrs. Beecher, who is the mother of a son, noted that an aspect of child protection is ensuring that they are not left unattended.

“You do not leave them by themselves, because they can do things to endanger themselves, or other persons can go and harm them. You have to ensure that if they cannot come with you, somebody is there who is capable enough to look after them,” she told JIS News.

The CPFSA will be staging several islandwide activities in celebration of National Child Month 2021, which is being observed in May.

Child Month is being celebrated under the theme ‘I Strive to Overcome Adversities with Resilience (I-SOAR)’.

Among the activities planned by the Agency for the month are child-protection motorcades, roadshows and drive-throughs, which will see several officers of the CPFSA regional teams engaging citizens to build awareness about child abuse and protection, through recorded messages and town-crier broadcasts.

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