- Between January 2012 and May 2013, some 148 children were removed from police lockups for care and protection.
- There was a 900 per cent increase in the 2013/14 budgetary allocation for the rehabilitation of children’s homes and places of safety, moving from $6 million in 2012 to $60.3 million.
The Full Story
In 2013, the Ministry of Youth and Culture pursued several initiatives to address the issue of child safety and to reduce and prevent child abuse. Chief among them was the strengthening of the Child Development Agency (CDA) and the Office of the Children’s Registry (OCR).
Efforts were also made by the Ministry and its agencies to reduce youth unemployment by focusing on entrepreneurship, skills training and preparing young people for work in the global village.
Most of the work undertaken was aligned to two of Government’s five strategic priorities in the 2013/14 financial year – Effective Social Inclusion and Human Capital Development.
CHILDREN REMOVED FROM LOCKUPS
Between January 2012 and May 2013, some 148 children were removed from police lockups for care and protection. This was one of the steps taken by Government towards achieving compliance with the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of the Child and the UN Standard Minimum rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice.
INCREASED FUNDING TO REHABILITATE CHILDREN’S HOMES
There was a 900 per cent increase in the 2013/14 budgetary allocation for the rehabilitation of children’s homes and places of safety, moving from $6 million in 2012 to $60.3 million.
Some of the allocated funds were used to refurbish places of safety damaged by Hurricane Sandy last October. One such place, the Muirton Boys’ Home in Manchioneal, Portland, was allocated $10 million to undertake repairs to the roof and windows of the main dormitory, the House Mother’s quarters, the outdoor bathrooms and the living room ceiling. Operated by the CDA, the home caters to boys, aged 12 to 17 years, who are deemed to be in need of care and protection.
OCR OFFICES IN MANCHESTER AND ST. ANN
In May, the OCR opened offices in Manchester and St. Ann, as the agency moved to facilitate more persons outside the Corporate Area, who need to make reports of child abuse or neglect. The offices have been set up at CDA locations situated at 19 Caledonia Mall, Mandeville and at Lee Sin Tyre Centre, Shop 15-16 Windsor Road, St. Ann’s Bay.
BOOST FOR ANANDA ALERT
The Ananda Alert Secretariat was transferred from the Ministry of Local Government to the Ministry of Youth and Culture and placed under the OCR on March 1. The staff of the unit was increased to facilitate greater operational efficiency and an allocation of $9 million made to bolster the response mechanism of the Ananda Alert system. The Ananda Alert system is designed to ensure the speedy and safe recovery of a child in the unfortunate event that he or she is missing or abducted.
A Memorandum of Understanding, aimed at enhancing the system through a multi-sectoral approach, was also signed by several stakeholders in May. Since then, the OCR has been having a series of consultations with various stakeholders as part of efforts to raise awareness of the system and the agency that operates it.
MISSING CHILDREN ON BILLBOARDS
In September, the OCR mounted electronic billboards in Kingston, Spanish Town and Montego Bay with the faces of children reported missing by the police. Some
$3.4 million was allocated for the running of the electronic billboards.
UPLIFTMENT PROGRAMME LAUNCHED
The pilot stage of the Uplitment Programme 2013, which provides social and psychological support for children in remand facilities, was launched on August 7 at the Diamond Crest Juvenile Correctional Centre in St. Elizabeth. The programme is supported by the Advisory Council of Psychiatrists set up by the Ministry of Youth and Culture.
REMOVAL OF ‘UNCONTROLLABLE BEHAVIOUR’ LABEL
Cabinet approved removal of the ‘uncontrollable behaviour’ label from children who display extreme behaviour. The Youth Minister informed that the Government instead putting in place systems and facilities for the therapeutic treatment of the underlying causes of such behavior, that should result in judges no longer having the option of sentencing these children to correctional centres.
Cabinet also approved the review and development of recommendations for the amendment to the Child Care and Protection Act, with an emphasis on Sections 8, Subsection 1(a) and Section 24. These address the circumstances under which a child is deemed in need of care and protection and the power of a parent or guardian to bring a child before the court.
STAFF TO INVESTIGATE CHILD ABUSE
The CDA’s capacity to effectively address incidents of child abuse was boosted through the beefing up of staff in its Investigation Unit which now has a Manager and 10 Investigation Officers deployed island-wide.
Students at the University of the Technology (UTech) also assist to carry out field investigations through a three-year agreement between the Government and that institution for collaboration in the area of child and adolescent development.
To promote proper parenting practices in the society, the CDA held a series of parenting workshops across the island. The agency worked with children and their families to provide necessary support, thereby preventing a significant number of them from coming into its care.
PM’s YOUTH AWARDS
Some 45 outstanding young men and women were recognized on March 24 at the Prime Minister’s Youth Awards for Excellence ceremony, an initiative which highlights the achievements of young Jamaicans between 15 and 24 years of age.
NYS SUMMER PROGRAMME
Some 3,750 young people between 17 and 24 years of age participated in the National Youth Service Summer Programme 2013. Approximately $57 million was allocated for the programme, with 75 per cent of the sum going directly to the participants.
GRADUATE WORK EXPERIENCE PROGRAMME
The agency also began a Graduate Work Experience Programme on November 18, placing 30 persons at public and private institutions in the eastern parishes. The programme is designed to provide graduates from 17 to 24 years of age with an opportunity to develop workplace skills, while increasing self confidence and developing their ability to apply theory to practical work experience.
NATIONAL CENTRE FOR YOUTH DEVELOPMENT (NCYD)
Between March and May 2013 the NCYD, through the Youth Information centres, referred a total of 4,014 at risk young people to the Learning for Life Programme in collaboration with Bars to Go Training Institute. The training is geared towards skills development, qualification and employment opportunities in the local and international hospitality industry.
JNHT LAUNCHES ‘HERITAGE IN PICTURES’
More than 160 of the nation’s historic sites were captured through breathtaking photography in the Jamaica National Heritage Trust’s publication, ‘Jamaica: Heritage in Pictures.’ The book is a commemorative Jamaica 50 publication.
THREE NEW MUSEUMS
To preserve Jamaica’s rich cultural heritage three new museums were opened. They are located in Roxborough, Manchester; Seville Great House, in St. Ann; and the Institute of Jamaica in Kingston.
STUDENT CULTURE CARDS FOR FREE ACCESS
The Youth and Culture Minister also presented approximately 100 students from schools in the Corporate Area with culture cards on December 4. These allowed them to access, free of cost, the museums and galleries of the Institute of Jamaica; Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) events and JAMBIZ productions.
The pilot initiative sought to expose, educate and engender, within the nation’s children, a greater appreciation and understanding of Jamaica’s culture and cultural experiences. The project targeted students at Papine High; Haile Selassie High; St. Andrew Technical High and Vauxhall High Schools, during the initial phase of the programme.
Vigils were held islandwide to mark the country’s celebration of Emancipation. The national event was held at Seville Heritage Park, St. Ann and began on July 31, lasting until the early hours of August 1 (Emancipation Day).
There were floral tributes to the African ancestors and throughout the evening into the early morning, there was an entertainment package of cultural dances from different groups across the island, including traditional and folk types, and modern dancehall acts.
Several activities were held across the country to celebrate the country’s 51st Anniversary of Independence. Notable among these was the Grand Gala at the National Stadium on August 6, which attracted 27,500 persons.
Other events included Parish church services, National Independence Thanksgiving Service, Mello Go Roun’, Jamaica Festival Song Showcase, Miss Jamaica Festival Queen Coronation, Jamaica Gospel Song National Finals, and the World Reggae Dance Championship.
YOUTH MONTH ACTIVITIES
Youth Month was observed in November under the theme: ‘Reset di Ting: The Courage to Do Things Differently’ and several activities were held to mark the occasion. The message of ‘reset di ting’ is a platform from which the Ministry embarked on a national programme for the engagement of all Jamaican youth with the aim to inspire and motivate young Jamaicans to achieve success and keep the faith in pursuing their social, economic, academic and professional dreams, despite the existence of major economic and other challenges.
In keeping with the Institute of Jamaica’s mandate for the encouragement of literature, art and science in Jamaica, two Gold, four Silver and two Bronze Musgrave Medals were presented to eight distinguished Jamaicans in recognition of their outstanding contributions these fields.
The awardees were composer and musician, Reinford Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry; Director of the Centre for African Studies at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and Social Historian Franklin Knight; Author, Marlon James; Guitarist Earl ‘China’ Smith; Author/painter, Franklin Bernal and Climate change expert, Professor Michael Taylor.
Musgrave medals were also awarded to poet and writer of short fiction, Dr. Pamela Mordecai and natural products researcher, Dr. Trevor Yee.
As Chair of the Jamaica National Commission of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), Minister Hanna, led a delegation to the 37th session of the UNESCO General Conference held from November 4-22, in Paris, France.
The Minister presented Jamaica’s Statement to the general policy debate of the conference and participated in the leadership forum. The Minister also spearheaded Jamaica’s candidacy for membership on the UNESCO Executive Board and the World Heritage Committee.
HERITAGE MEETING IN PERU
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Youth and Culture, Sydney Bartley and Acting Executive Director of the JNHT, Dorrick Gray, represented Jamaica at the Ministerial Meeting on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage in Latin-America and the Caribbean held in Lima, Peru, October 16 and 17.
The delegation made a presentation on: ‘Port Royal – A Sunken Pirate City, a Heritage Site’, on October 16. The meeting forms part of UNESCO’s efforts to foster greater preservation, research and protection of underwater heritage sites in the region, which are said to be under threat from pillaging and commercial exploitation.
UN CHILD RIGHTS MEETING
The Youth and Culture Minister attended the United Nations Third Committee High Level Debate on the Rights of the Child held from October 16-18 at the UN Headquarters in New York where she delivered Jamaica’s Statement on the implementation of the country’s national programme of child protection and child rights promotion.
The Minister also participated in a panel discussion on regional cooperation for the protection of children from violence; and a roundtable discussion.
LAUNCH OF JCDC GOLD ANTHOLOGY
The much-anticipated launch of the JCDC Gold Anthology was held during the Jamaica Creative Writing Award Ceremony on November 5 at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston. The Gold Anthology is a collection of gold medal winning short-stories from the JCDC Festival catalogue between 1999 and 2006. The ceremony bore even greater significance as the JCDC was celebrating 50 years.
INTERNATIONAL YOUTH DAY
The Ministry commemorated Youth Day with a public education forum focusing on youth, migration and development. Over 200 youth participated in the activity, which was held at the University of the West Indies on August 12.
Partnering with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Ministry, through the NCYD, used the forum to explore three issues of importance –
(i) migration and sustainable development (ii) youth, employment and migration and (iii) trafficking and smuggling of young migrants.