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Story Highlights

  • Children’s Advocate, Diahann Gordon Harrison, says Jamaica stands to benefit significantly from the just-concluded Caribbean Regional Conference of the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (ISPCAN).
  • The five-day event, which opened on December 1 with a Youth Forum, was held at the Hilton Rose Hall Resort and Spa in Montego Bay, St. James, under the theme ‘Child Protection Realities within a Changing Caribbean and World’.
  • In an interview with JIS News following the closing ceremony, Mrs. Gordon Harrison hailed the conference as a “resounding success”, stating that Jamaica and the rest of the Caribbean will likely adopt critical best practices put forward by international experts in order to advance child development.

Children’s Advocate, Diahann Gordon Harrison, says Jamaica stands to benefit significantly from the just-concluded Caribbean Regional Conference of the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (ISPCAN).

The five-day event, which opened on December 1 with a Youth Forum, was held at the Hilton Rose Hall Resort and Spa in Montego Bay, St. James, under the theme ‘Child Protection Realities within a Changing Caribbean and World’.

In an interview with JIS News following the closing ceremony, Mrs. Gordon Harrison hailed the conference as a “resounding success”, stating that Jamaica and the rest of the Caribbean will likely adopt critical best practices put forward by international experts in order to advance child development.

“I think this conference is a particular goalpost that Jamaica has achieved. It is a conference that I think will go on, for a very long time, to positively impact child development in the region. We had experts from across the globe right here in Jamaica… talking to us about everything that may impact a child… there were so many takeaways,” she said.

She noted that the knowledge garnered from the event will contribute to the development of “evidence-informed strategies that will increase the prevention kind of mechanisms that we have, which ultimately, will redound to children’s best interests’.

Mrs. Gordon Harrison, who is also the National Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, said that the Office of the Children’s Advocate (OCA) has been exposed to “forward-thinking approaches and assessments of the issues that impact children”.

She said that arising from the discussions, the OCA will make recommendations to the Government in relation to the protection of child athletes and young people in sports; development of a substantive systematic method to deal with child deaths; among other child-related issues.

“In the Caribbean region, we do not, in fact, have any substantive systematic approaches to treating child deaths. That’s an area that presents an opportunity for growth. We also had a group that focused on child maltreatment data collection, and that really emphasised the importance of tracking data, because it is through credible data that we are able to have meaningful interventions,” she outlined.

Mrs. Gordon Harrison said that one area that the Government is already addressing is the establishment of policy across the board to treat with children in sports and their safety, and information gleaned from the conference can be used to inform this policy.

“Having, for example, been exposed to what happens at the level of the Olympics… and having got information from them [experts] as to how we can localise some of their policies, that, for me, creates a great opportunity, because I would infuse those into my recommendations,” she pointed out.

The ISPCAN Conference was held in partnership with the OCA with participants from several countries, including Switzerland, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States.

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