The Office of the Children's Registry (OCR) has received over 24,000 reports of child abuse, since its inception in 2007. It is estimated that some 7,000 cases were received in 2011.
This was revealed by the Registrar, Greig Smith, at the OCR’s fifth anniversary church service on Sunday (January 14) at Andrews Memorial Seventh-Day Adventist Church, Hope Road, Kingston. The church service is the first of a number of activities being organised by the Children’s Registry under the theme, “Celebrating Five Years of Breaking the Silence.
"This is an exponential increase from the 455 reports received in its first year of operation in 2007," he said. In 2008, 3,973 reports were received by the Registry, while 6,439 were received in 2009 and 6,330 in 2010. The OCR provides a confidential central system to receive, record, assess and refer these reports for investigation, and maintains a register of child abuse reports.
Mr. Smith said that the increase in the number of reports was an indication of the mission of the Registry, and the public’s heightened awareness to report known or suspected cases or incidents of child abuse and neglect.
"Indeed, we can say that persons are 'breaking the silence' and reporting child abuse. This could not have been possible without increased public education efforts of the OCR as well as our partner agencies," he said.
Bringing greetings at the service, Minister of Youth and Culture, Lisa Hanna, said that young people are Jamaica’s most critical population, to ensure the country’s progress. She called for more collaborative efforts between the Government, the private sector and families in developing programmes that can impact the lives of young people.
"There has to be a more integrated approach in the way that the state, the education system and also families and private sector communicate, to implement policies that impact more effectively on our children’s lives," she said.
Miss Hanna, who represented Prime Minister, Most Hon Portia Simpson Miller, said it was important to encourage children to be confident, noting that it helps to improve their self-esteem and their ability to express themselves.
"If you don’t allow them to express themselves, they will not pour out that tremendous talent and our country will not be better off for it," she added.