Minister of Youth and Culture, Hon. Lisa Hanna, said that eradicating the scourge of child abuse remains a top priority for action by the Government.
She noted however that "this is not a job alone for the Government," and other stakeholders, such as the church, will be engaged. "We are currently leading a series of community forums and I would encourage the church to be a part of those forums," she urged.
Ms. Hanna was speaking on September 17 at a youth forum held at the United Theological College of the West Indies' St. Andrew headquarters under the theme: 'Mek We Set Di Ting'.
She noted that the community forums, organised by the Child Development Agency (CDA), seek to sensitise families and communities about child abuse. The objectives are to encourage residents to get involved in reducing the incidence of child abuse in the society; and to empower children to reach their full potential.
The effort has the input of other agencies such as the Office of the Children’s Registry (OCR), the Office of the Children’s Advocate, and Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse (CISOCA).
Turning to efforts to improve care given to wards of the state, Ms. Hanna informed that through “multi-sectoral efforts and approaches” more than 1,000 children have been kept out of state care since January.
“We have ramped up our foster care programme and moved it to 60 per cent of children in state care being fostered by Jamaican parents and we have planned and put in place other mechanisms to make sure that we deal with children in lock-ups. (We have) built a new facility for girls and a correctional facility and improved our facility at the Rio Cobre Juvenile Facility,” she informed.