JIS News

Minister with responsibility for Information, Senator Sandrea Falconer, said there is need to sensitise and empower parents and caregivers to assist with the protection of their children.

She said that parents should not depend solely on Ananda Alert to stem the missing-children problem.

"Many of the children, who go missing, they are children, who the supervision isn't as good as it could be from a home and community perspective  and so I think that we, as a nation, need to be more proactive in taking care of our children," Senator Falconer said.

She was contributing to debate in the Upper House on Friday (July 27) on a motion brought by Opposition Senator, Robert Montague, urging the Senate to recommend that the Ananda Alert System remain under the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development and continue to be operated by the parish councils.

The Government is looking to move the system to the Ministry of Youth and Culture, under the direct remit of the Child Development Agency (CDA).

Senator Falconer said the transfer will give it the kind of focus needed to address the crisis of missing and abducted children. She said the relocation does not mean that parish councils will no longer support the programme through their networks island-wide.

She noted further that the capacity of the CDA will need to be strengthened to provide intervention for children and families affected by abduction, kidnapping, runaways and trafficking.

The motion was amended and approved, urging the Government to move swiftly to upgrade the Ananda Alert system and to have it appropriately resourced and widely embraced with a view to meeting the challenge of the alarming increase in missing children in Jamaica. An update on the system is to be tabled twice a year in both Houses of Parliament. 

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