Minister of Youth and Culture, Hon. Lisa Hanna is encouraging children to report cases of abuse and neglect, reminding that neglect is also classified as a form of child abuse.
"If you have a parent or guardian who is neglecting you, they can be reported because at this stage of your life, your physical and emotional well-being is important and the only way you are going to feel good about yourself is if you get care, reassurance, motivation, love," the youth Minister told scores of students from schools in Kingston and St. Andrew on Friday, (November 2). The occasion was a youth forum held at the St. Andrew Parish Church Hall in Kingston as part of Youth Month activities and was organised by the National Child Month Committee.
The Minister also encouraged the youth to speak up on the matter of sexual abuse, reminding them that no one has the right to touch them inappropriately. "You have a responsibility to yourself to report such acts where they happen. You are to respect yourselves and report it if anybody does anything to you that you find harmful whether emotionally, sexually or physically," she said.
Ms. Hanna also encouraged the children not to participate in underage sexual activities, informing that "by law and good moral values persons under the age of 16 are not allowed to have sex".
She said that even where young persons are older than 16 nobody – man or woman, has the right to force themselves on them inappropriately. Minister Hanna told the youth that sex can and should wait until they are physically, mentally, socially and financially ready, encouraging them to remain focused on their education and on their dreams and aspirations.
Persons may report incidences of abuse to the Office of the Children's Registry, an agency of the Ministry of Youth and Culture by calling the toll free number 1-888-PROTECT (1-888-776-8328) or by calling 908-2132/ 822-7031(LIME) or 878-2882 (Digicel) between the hours 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., Monday to Friday.
Reports can also be made by visiting the offices of the Children's Registry at 12 Carlton Crescent, Kingston 10 or by faxing the report to 908-0246 or emailing at email@example.com
Under the Child Care and Protection Act (2004), it is an offence to fail to report known or suspected situations of child abuse to the Children's Registry. The penalty for such an offence is imprisonment for up to six months, a fine of $500,000, or both.
While addressing the youth forum, which provided an avenue for children to voice their views on issues that affect them, Minister Hanna reminded the youth to become active members of their communities as volunteers. "You are never too young to do community work, and you are never too young to work on behalf of other young people," she noted.
The forum was held under theme: 'Jamaica 50: Let's Celebrate Our Children,' and included presentations from students of Wolmer's Girls and Penwood High Schools on the topic: 'Care and Protection for our Children during the Past 50 years', while students of St. George's College and Ardenne High School spoke on the topic, 'Recognition and Celebration of the Achievements of Our Children during the Past 50 Years'.
The forum was also attended by chairperson of the Child Month Committee, Dr. Pauline Mullings; Committee Patron, Douglas Orane; and Principal of Wolmer's Girls School, Colleen Montague.
Contact: Huntley Medley (Advisor/Consultant)