JYFC Launches Project to Protect Children


The Jamaica Youth For Christ (JYFC), in partnership with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), has stepped up the campaign to reduce crimes committed against children, with the launch of the ‘Building Community Support to Reduce Violence Against Children’ project.
The official launch of the project took place yesterday (November 30) at the JYFC’s head office and youth centre, at 2 Acacia Avenue in Kingston.Addressing the ceremony, National Director of JYFC, Dr. Donovan Thomas said the project was in response to the great concern of violence against children in Jamaica.
“The incidence of violence against our children continues to be of great concern in our nation,” he emphasised.
The project aims to provide counselling, mentorship and prevent teen suicide and will focus on three main areas – the establishment of three counselling centres in Mandeville, Montego Bay and Ocho Rios, which will offer counselling support to hurting youth and their families, as well as to schools and Children’s Homes; and the setting up of Character Clubs in Junior High Schools. The clubs will begin in four pilot schools, one each in Kingston, Mandeville, Montego Bay and Ocho Rios, and will seek to help children to choose healthy, positive alternatives to dealing with conflict.
In the third area, focus will be on conducting a series of training seminars to build support for the young people on a community level. Topics for the seminar include, parenting skills, character development, and teen suicide prevention.
The project is a partnership involving persons at various levels in the community, and includes the Inter-Sectoral Working Group on Children and Violence Issues.
Dr. Thomas urged the community to assist the young people and show them alternatives to crime.”We seek to encourage the community to provide help for the hurting youth and take deliberate steps to identify positive alternatives for violent lifestyles. We call on everyone to help our young people to live past 25 years old,” he urged.
Programmes Co-ordinator at UNICEF, Nada Marasavic, pointed out that this was the first time UNICEF was collaborating with a faith-based organization to protect children in Jamaica.
She emphasised that the project would reinforce the work being carried out by other non-Governmental organisations (NGOs) at the community level, and commended the JYFC for not focusing on Kingston only.
“Indeed violence against children is not a Kingston-based phenomenon; children in other parts of Jamaica are silently suffering from all forms of abuse,” said Miss Marasavic.
She also lauded the JYFC for recognizing that it had a responsibility and a role to play in helping to create a protective environment for Jamaica’s children.
“The work you are doing today will surely contribute to the creation of a more peaceful society and one in which the well being of all children will be a priority,” Miss Marasavic said.
In his remarks, Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of National Security, Senator Kern Spencer, said that violence in schools was now a major concern and as a result, the Ministry along with other Ministries, such as Health and Education, had developed the Safe Schools and the Violence Prevention Alliance programmes to combat this problem.
He added that the Ministry of Education, Youth and Culture had been mandated to put together a Youth Rationalization Committee, as it had been recognized that there were several organizations, which wanted to “put a dent” in youth involvement in crime and violence.
The Senator invited the JYFC to be a part of the committee, which has representatives from the Ministries that are responsible for the Safe Schools Programme and the Violence Prevention Alliance.
“We formally invite the JYFC to be a part of the Youth Rationalization Programme, as we try to pull everyone into one net in an attempt to exchange ideas and to have a formal approach, so that we don’t have a situation whereby everybody is pulling in various directions,” he stated.
“It is time for us as a government, NGOs and citizens to say enough is enough,” Senator Spencer stressed.The JYFC was established in 1947 and is a chartered member of Youth for Christ International. It is a non-profit, non-denominational, Christian youth organization.

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