- OCR and the Jamaica Library Service have signed a MoU, that will see them cooperating in the dissemination of information on missing children.
- The MoU will facilitate the installation of six computers and printers in libraries across select parishes for the printing of information regarding missing children
- The acquisition of the computers was made possible through the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
The Office of the Children’s Registry (OCR) and the Jamaica Library Service (JLS) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), that will see them cooperating in the dissemination of information on missing children.
Children’s Registrar, Greig Smith, says the MoU will facilitate the installation of six computers and printers in libraries across select parishes for the printing of information regarding missing children and disseminating it. This, he said, will boost the OCR’s search and rescue efforts.
Mr. Smith said the acquisition of the computers was made possible through the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
He was addressing the launch of the 2014-2016 Child Ambassadors Programme, held on June 10, at the Spanish Court Hotel in Kingston. The programme was initiated in 2012 to increase awareness among children about the role of the OCR and the importance of reporting child abuse.
“We are grateful for the support we have received from UNICEF over the seven- year period since the OCR was established and I wish to applaud them for their dedication to the care and protection of the children of Jamaica,” Mr. Smith said.
He reminded the audience that the fight against missing children is enormous. “We cannot combat the many ills that affect our children if each person or entity operates within a vacuum,” Mr. Smith emphasized.
The Registrar noted that between January and April this year, 656 children were reported missing, of which 412 were recovered. “Unfortunately two were found dead, one male and a female, and 242 were still missing at the end of the January to April period,” he added.
Mr. Smith pointed out that there is a link between children who go missing and children who are abused. “Children who go missing may end up in situations that put them at risk to be trafficked or engaged in child labour, among many other dangers,” he said.
He also informed that the OCR has been undertaking search and rescue training in selected parishes through partnership with the police.
“The primary aim of the training was the establishment and implementation of protocols between government agencies and community and parish-level development groups to improve the timely response of communities to missing children,” Mr. Smith said.
Training sessions were held in Trelawny, St. Ann, St. Catherine, St. James and St. Thomas. Among those participating were representatives of the Social Development Commission (SDC), Child Development Agency (CDA), Parish Councils, Parish Development Committees (PDCs), Jamaica Fire Brigade, National Centre for Youth Development (NCYD), Jamaica Parenting Alliance, Citizen Associations as well as teachers and nurses.
The Registrar said a draft search and rescue manual, which was developed by the OCR with assistance from the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), will be completed in short order and presented to the participants for review.
“This document, when finalized, will be used to guide all search and rescue of children in Jamaica,” he explained.
Mr. Smith said the manuals will be made available to residential child care facilities, educational institutions and other local interest groups.