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JIS News

Story Highlights

  • The Office of the Children’s Registry (OCR) is looking to extend its ‘Break the Silence’ campaign.
  • The Break the Silence campaign featured several prominent celebrities and business leaders encouraging persons to report physical, sexual and emotional abuse of children.
  • Meanwhile, the OCR Public Relations Officer tells JIS News that there are plans to undertake another survey to measure the effectiveness of the campaign.

The Office of the Children’s Registry (OCR) is looking to extend its ‘Break the Silence’ campaign.

The initiative, undertaken from June to November 2015, encouraged adults to report cases of child abuse.

It was developed after an islandwide survey showed that for every 10 adults, who admitted that they knew about cases of child abuse, only one was willing to come forward to make a report.

“We are in talks now for an agreement that should come on stream very shortly, for it to run for an additional six months or so,” says Public Relations Officer at the OCR, Julia Smiley Green.

She tells JIS News that even though the campaign officially ended in November, the OCR continues to carry the messages in the electronic media and on its social platforms.

“We paid for additional advertising for radio, so we had advertisements running on radio up to the end of March this year. We currently have a time signal that is running on radio that will go until about the end of the first week in June,” Mrs. Smiley Green notes.

The Break the Silence campaign featured several prominent celebrities and business leaders encouraging persons to report physical, sexual and emotional abuse of children.

The programme, supported by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), was a direct response to the ‘Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices’ survey on child maltreatment in Jamaica, which the OCR commissioned with technical and financial support from UNICEF.

The OCR received more than 44,000 reports of child abuse for the period 2007-2014.

Mrs. Smiley Green is imploring persons, who suspect that a child is being abused to make a report to the OCR.

“We tell persons that in making a report to the OCR, you have the option to remain an anonymous reporter, so you do not have to tell us who you are to make a report. There are systems in place to safeguard you in making your report to us,” she points out.

“If they chose the option of calling… the system is set up in such a way that we are not able to call back or track any number that comes through that call centre,” Mrs. Smiley Green notes further.

Additionally, when a report is made to another agency for investigation, a separate referral form is produced with just the information pertaining to the child and the case. It has no details of the person making the report.

While the ‘Break the Silence’ campaign was primarily targeted at adults, it also reached out to children through a junior campaign called ‘Enough is Enough’.

“One of the things that we realise is that children are sometimes afraid to make reports. Often, the reports about children come to us from adults but we also want to empower children to know that if they are experiencing abuse, they can come forward and make a report,” Mrs. Smiley Green says.

Meanwhile, the OCR Public Relations Officer tells JIS News that there are plans to undertake another survey to measure the effectiveness of the campaign.

“At the moment what we can say is that a lot more awareness of the OCR has happened since the launch of this campaign. We know that persons are a little more aware and persons are using the hashtag: #BreakTheSilence,” Mrs. Smiley Green points out.

Persons can make a report of child abuse to the OCR by sending an email to report@ocr.gov.jm; or by visiting the four OCR offices located in Kingston, Manchester, St. Mary and Westmoreland.

Persons can also call the OCR toll free at: 1-888- PROTECT (776-8328) (Flow) Tel: 908-2132, 908-2143 (Flow); 618-5888 (Digicel landline); 754-9133 (Flow); 631-8933 (Flow); 631-8908 (Flow); Cell: 822-7031 (Flow) 878-2882 (Digicel); and Fax: 908-2579.