The Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, the Honourable Olivia Grange, has called on the society to be more vigilant of the care and protection of children and to report cases of abuse including neglect to the Office of the Children’s Registry.
The Minister’s latest appeal comes in light of a recent report that a teenager who had been ill for three weeks did not receive medical attention and subsequently died.
Minister Grange expressed alarm at the report which she said, if proved true, would be “a gross dereliction of duty by the community to the welfare of the child.” The Children’s Minister said she was concerned by the “failure of adults across the country to protect children from harm.”
The Registrar at the OCR, Greig Smith, pointed out that far too often community members are aware that children are being abused or neglected but fail to make a report. He used the opportunity to remind the public that under the Child Care and Protection Act 2004, it is an offence to know or suspect child abuse and not report it. “Persons who know or suspect child abuse, including neglect, but fail to report it to the Children’s Registry, could be charged for offence which could lead to imprisonment for six months, a fine of $500,000 or both,” Mr. Smith shared.
The Registrar also appealed to parents and guardians to seek assistance medical attention for children who fall ill. “If your child is sick, especially for a prolonged period and you do not seek medical attention, this may be seen as neglect and you can be charged.”
The Child Care and Protection Act stipulates that neglect occurs ‘when a parent or other person having legal duty to be responsible for a child’s maintenance including providing adequate food, clothing, lodging and health care fails to do so.’ The penalty for neglect is $1 million or 3-5 years imprisonment with hard labour or both.
The Children’s Registry is encouraging people to report child abuse by calling 1-888-PROTECT (1-888-776-8328) or 908-2132/ 822-7031 (LIME) or 878-2882 (Digicel) between the hours 7:00am to 11:00pm. Persons may also visit the Children’s Registry at 12 Carlton Crescent, Kingston 10 or fax the report to 908-2579 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reports made to the Children’s Registry are held in the strictest of confidence and reporters do not have to give their name.
Trevesa Ashman, Public Education Specialist at the Children’s Registry