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A total of 44 complaints of abuse were received by the Office of the Children’s Advocate (OCA) for the period September to November, 2010.
Speaking at a press briefing on December 3, at the OCA’s Downtown Kingston offices, Investigating Officer at the agency, Mr. Courtney Berry said the reports of abuse vary from sexual and physical to abuse in the correctional system.
“All are under investigation at the moment. We do visits to correctional institutions to investigate all cases of abuse that are reported or wherever they occur in the system,” Mr. Berry said.
“We also have complaints of education neglect, where parents refuse to send their children to school. There are also cases of child neglect, where parents would leave their children alone at home for extended periods,” he added.
Mr. Berry said the OCA is currently investigating the case of a missing child in Tivoli Gardens, who has not been seen since the unrest in the community, in May.
“All the information has been collected; the report has been done and given to our senior legal officer, who is now doing a report to send to the Commissioner of Police and also to the Coroner for an inquest,” Mr. Berry said.
Meanwhile, in her remarks, Legal Officer at the OCA, Miss Nicole Wright informed that for the period September to November, the OCA has successfully applied for bail for two children at the Southern Circuit of the Children’s Court, after thorough investigations.
“One child was actually re-united with family members. We also successfully made pleas in mitigation during the sentencing of one child before the court and the child was given a non-custodial sentence as a result of our advocacy,” Miss Wright said.
She added that the OCA has been called on to assist in securing representation for children in approximately six matters currently before the Spanish Town Children’s Court.
“In approximately two matters, we watched proceedings on behalf of children in abuse cases and then gave them advice and assisted them in getting maintenance from the fathers who happen to be the perpetrators,” Miss Wright said.
The OCA, a Commission of Parliament, was created under the Child Care and Protection Act of 2004, and the first Children’s Advocate was appointed in January 2006. The vision and mission statements reflect its work to ensure that the rights of children are protected, and enforced, and that their best interests upheld.