- Primary and high school students are learning about child abuse and the process of reporting cases, through a series of consultations organized by the OCR.
- Six schools have so far participated in the initiative, dubbed ‘School Tours’.
- Minister of Youth and Culture, Hon. Lisa Hanna, is expected to speak at some of the sessions.
Primary and high school students are learning about child abuse and the process of reporting cases, through a series of consultations organized by the Office of the Children’s Registry (OCR).
Six schools have so far participated in the initiative, dubbed ‘School Tours’, which is funded by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The schools are Askenish All Age, Rhodes Hall High and Sandy Bay Primary and Junior High, in Hanover; Godfrey Stewart High, Westmoreland; Guys Hill High, St. Catherine and Holland High, Trelawney.
Other schools confirmed for tours this month are: Yallahs High School in St. Thomas (February 18); St. Mary Technical High (February 19), Highgate Primary and Junior High (February 20), and Annotto Bay High (February 27), in St Mary; and Norwich Primary (February 25) and Buff Bay High (February 26), in Portland.
Discussion with the students will last from 12:30 p.m. to 2:00 p.m., with resource persons drawn from the OCR, the Child Development Agency (CDA) and the Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse (CISOCA).
Information on child abuse and the protection of children will also be shared with parents and community members at the schools from 2:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. by representatives of the National Parenting Support Commission and the Office of the Children’s Advocate.
Minister of Youth and Culture, Hon. Lisa Hanna, is expected to speak at some of the sessions.
Registrar of the OCR, Greig Smith, said the office is aiming to increase the level of child abuse reports filed by victims from two to seven per cent.
“We want to increase the percentage of children making reports and so we are targeting primary and high schools to educate our children about their rights, their responsibilities and how they can be part of the reporting mechanism and how to share information in their schools and communities,” he said.
The Registrar noted that although statistics are showing low incidents of child abuse in rural communities, “it does not mean that there are less incidents of child abuse there.”
“We think that we need to increase awareness and public education, especially in those rural areas in St. Mary, St. Thomas, Portland, Trelawny and Hanover, where we are seeing less reports of child abuse,” he said.
Mr. Smith is inviting parents and community members to join in the dialogue at the different schools, where there will be “frank discussions with regards to how we deal with child abuse and missing children.”
The Registrar said the school tours were first held in November 2011 and again in 2012, when the agency observed its fifth anniversary.
The OCR is responsible for receiving, recording and assessing reports of child abuse and referring these reports to the relevant agencies for investigation and action.