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JIS News

Children’s Advocate, Mary Clarke, has encouraged parents to monitor their children more closely to ensure their safety and protection.
“Parents, guardians and caregivers, need to ensure that they know where their children are at all times,” she said, pointing to the numerous reports of children being abused by members of their community, and being influenced by their peers to visit places without permission from their caregivers.
The Children’s Advocate, who was speaking to JIS News within the context of back-to-school preparations, said: “as the start of the new school year approaches, parents should consider arranging appropriate transportation for their children to go to and from school”. She added that, “it is also important that they know who will be transporting their children”.
Mrs. Clarke also appealed to parents to “avoid the phenomenon of the ‘latch key’ children, that is, children who are given keys to let themselves in and out of their home to go or come from school”.
“This practice leaves our children open to attack from unwelcome visitors as well as leaves them more exposed to accidents in the home. Also, the likelihood of our children watching inappropriate programmes on television increases when they are left unsupervised,” she pointed out.
“I am calling on parents, who work outside of their home, to get someone to receive your children and to supervise them in your absence,” she urged.
Citing sections of the Child Care and Protection Act, Mrs. Clarke pointed out that “when an adult fails to undertake the necessary measures to ensure that a child is not harmed, they can be charged with neglect”.
The Children’s Advocate further charged parents to be supportive of their children and assist them with their schoolwork. According to Mrs. Clarke, “children who perform best in school are those whose parents are integrally involved in their education. Parents have no excuse for not helping. Those who are not in a position to help should seek to find alternative help for them. This will motivate children to do well in school”.
Parents, she continued, should also try to attend parent teachers’ association (PTA) meetings on a regular basis and support the schools their children attend in whatever way possible.
“There are things that they need to know including problems their children may be having at school,” she said, adding that, “parents should also attend the PTA meetings so that they can understand the changes taking place within the education system”.
Mrs. Clarke said that the society also had a significant role to play in ensuring the protection and well being of the nation’s children and urged that persons to become conscious of the issues impacting the survival, development and protection of children in Jamaica. “I trust that we will all abide by the Childcare and Protection Act and seek to comply where compliance is needed especially with respect to the mandatory reporting of child abuse,” she stated.
The Child Care and Protection Act 2004, has given more prominence to the need for the care and protection of children. The Act has created greater awareness, as it educates the populace on their responsibilities as parents and caregivers, while informing them of the rights of the child. As outlined in the Act, persons, who are aware of a situation in which a child is being abused, are required by law to make a report to the appropriate agent or agency, with failure to act attracting a penalty.
The Office of the Children’s Advocate is responsible for providing legal representation and related assistance to children, investigating and hearing complaints brought on behalf of children against government authorities, and reporting to Parliament and to the public, on the functions and investigations of the office.