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Story Highlights

  • Jamaica will next month host a cross-regional conference focusing on eliminating violence against children.
  • Minister Hanna contended that the world has taken note of the Government’s work to improve the lives of children in Jamaica.
  • The country was invited to host the event following her address to the 37th session of the UNESCO General Conference in Paris last year.

Jamaica will next month host a cross-regional conference focusing on eliminating violence against children.

This was disclosed by Minister of Youth and Culture, Hon. Lisa Hanna during her contribution to the 2014/15 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, May 20.

The Minister contended that the world has taken note of the Government’s work to improve the lives of children in Jamaica. She explained that the country was invited to host the event, which is to be held in Kingston, following her address to the 37th session of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) General Conference in Paris last year.

Minister Hanna said the administration was congratulated on the progress made over the past year to improve conditions for children and adolescents, especially those in need of care and protection.

“We have been strategic in seeking greater opportunities for the empowerment of our young people, especially in the face of growing youth unemployment and a commensurate broadening of the cohort of youth at risk,” she said.

She noted that through “shrewd and strategic” use of resources, and a new level of integration and inter-connectedness in programme delivery among its agencies, “we were able to make significant strides”.

Pointing to some of the achievements realised over the period, the Minister noted that all children were removed from adult correctional institutions, and that the Office of the Children’s Registry (OCR), and the Child Development Agency (CDA) are now active in tracking and removing children from police stations who spend more than 48 hours in lockups.

“We improved our efforts to locate missing children. Of the 2,205 children who were reported missing, we identified, reported and returned 1,723 of them to their homes,” the Minister noted.
She pointed out that in terms of the 482 unaccounted for, the police have informed that sometimes they are returned, but that at the request of parents, this is not reported. Of those reported missing, 14 children have been confirmed deceased.

In addition, Miss Hanna informed that the label of ‘uncontrollable behaviour’ ascribed to children who display extreme behavioural problems, has been removed from the country’s legislation following a Cabinet decision.

“We implemented a Mobile Mental Health Service for the South East Region to provide accessible and consistent mental health services to wards of the state in critical need of assessment and/or therapeutic care,” the Minister further informed.

Additionally the Ministry initiated the ‘Art for Life’ programme, which features the use of the performing arts as therapy and recreation at the South Camp Correctional Centre.

Turning to training opportunities and job opportunities made available for youngsters over the past year, Minister Hanna informed that almost 9,000 young persons were trained for job placement. “We trained another 5,000 in personal and career development across the island,” she said.

Miss Hanna further informed that the Ministry had also launched the Graduate Work Experience Programme (GWEP) which placed more than 300 young university graduates to work as interns.
“I am happy to report that many of them have transitioned to permanent employment,” she said.