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JIS News

The laws protecting children from abuse and neglect will be discussed at a community meeting, scheduled to take place at Nutts River Square (near Beresford Ward’s Shop) in Morant Bay, St. Thomas tomorrow (Nov. 6).
The meeting, which will begin at 6:00 p.m, is being organised by the Jamaica Information Service (JIS), in collaboration with the Morant Bay Development Area Committee and is being held in light of the recent upsurge of violence against the nation’s children. It is one in a series of meetings to be held during the months of November and December, under the theme: ‘Child Abuse Prevention’.
Guest speakers will be Children’s Officer at the Child Development Agency, Barrington Drysdale; Centre for Investigation Abuse and Sexual Offences at the Morant Bay Police Station, Corporal Fayanna Kelly; and Parish Co-ordinator for the Victim Support Unit, Levi Rodney.
Development Area Co-ordinator at the Social Development Commission, Nikema Leslie, told JIS News, that the meeting seeks to empower parents and other stakeholders to play a greater role in protecting children.
“If we get wide support from community members in the upbringing of children within communities, looking out for them, guarding them against the many injustices that we have seen taking place over the last few months, then we should be able to protect some of our children,” she stated.
Miss Leslie noted that there has been a decline in moral values in the Morant Bay area, especially among students who are “engaging in sexual activities at an early age with older persons.” She said that young persons will be informed about how to get help if they are victims of abuse.
Other problems facing the community, she mentioned, are the high incidence of unemployment, carnal abuse, violence, domestic dispute and incest.
Mr. Drysdale informed that his presentation will focus on the Child Care and Protection Act 2003, which seeks to protect children from abuse and neglect, by imposing stiff fines for breaches of the Act. He said a number of parents are unaware of the Act and “continue to abuse their children without paying the consequences.”
“Some of these abuses are not reported, especially sexual abuse and physical abuse. We have seen children with severe lacerations that have resulted from beatings. We have children that have been burnt, their hands placed over flames, probably because they stole 20 cents from their parents, children with broken limbs from beatings and all of the other abuses you could think of,” he added.
During the meeting, persons will have the opportunity to direct their concerns to the Mayor of Morant Bay, Councillor Hanif Brown and Councillor for the Morant Bay Division, Franklyn Sephestine. A representative from the Western Taxi Association, will also be present to answer questions.