JIS News

The Office of the Children’s Advocate (OCA) is recommending that the Government expand the suite of services to child victims and perpetrators of violence, to include therapeutic use of expressive arts in aiding recovery and rehabilitation.
In an OCA report tabled in the House of Representatives on November 30, it noted that provisions should be made for structured after-school and out-of-school activities, as these have recuperative potential and can achieve adaptive outcomes.
“The trauma of experiencing or being exposed to abuse and violence can leave permanent scars and rob children of their potential in life. Therefore, consistent engagement in structured activities has not only development but therapeutic value, and also has a positive impact on decision making,” the document notes.
The Report also states that how children spend their free time, and the kind of cultural and sub-cultural community patterns that value safe and healthy childhood, are of particular importance in the case of child victims of chronic violence, who live in high risk urban settings with weak social support networks.
“It is not uncommon for children, who are hurting and afraid, to find it difficult to express themselves in words. Some may be afraid to verbalise their fears and concerns. Creativity is, therefore, a powerful tool for expression and the arts are crucial to the healing of children who have been hurt by violence,” the document says.
It points out that the activities should be structured to enhance positive behaviour, contribute to brain development and build their esteem. These activities include drama, art, games, music, poetry, cultural activities and personal development sessions. “There, children can be encouraged to interact co-operatively, while expressing their individuality,” the report adds.
According to Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) data, 2,689 crimes were committed against children over the two-year period of 2008-2009. The statistics show that 563 boys and girls, between ages of 0 and 14 years, were victims of selected major crimes, such as murder, rape, carnal abuse and robbery.
Also in 2009, 124 children between the age of 12 and 15 years were arrested for 17 per cent of the major crimes, including murder, shooting, robbery, break-ins, larceny and rape/carnal abuse

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