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Registrar at the Office of the Children’s Registry (OCR), Mrs. Carla Francis Edie, is imploring persons to make a report, once they know or suspect that a child is being abused.
She contended that the high number of unreported child abuse cases is resulting in undue suffering for many of the nation’s youngsters, and urged individuals to speak out, even in the face of challenges, which may be deemed intimidating.
“Our ‘informer fi dead’ culture, has prevented many persons from coming forward to report child abuse for fear of their lives. So many of our children are still suffering from the cruelty of abuse and many of them are afraid to speak out,” the Registrar lamented.
Mrs. Francis Edie was speaking at the official launch of Child Month, at the Institute of Jamaica in downtown Kingston, on April 16. This year’s theme is: ‘All I Want is a Chance to Grow Up’.
She noted that since its inception in 2007, the OCR has received over 10,000 reports of child abuse, with over 6,000 of those reports received in 2009 alone. This, she said, was an exponential increase from the 400 reports that were received in the first year of operation, noting that since the start of this year, over 1,600 reports have been received.
Further emphasising the importance of reporting child abuse, the Registrar said that when an abused child does not receive the relevant interventions he or she needs to recover, it poses a significant threat to that child’s development and his/her ability to grow into a functional human being.
“Child abuse affects a child’s physical health, ranging from minor cuts and bruises to broken bones, injuries to the brain and even death. Child abuse also affects a child’s emotional development as studies have shown that the immediate emotional effects of abuse and neglect such as isolation, fear and an inability to trust, can translate to lifelong consequences, including low self-esteem, depression, and relationship difficulties,” she noted.
Mrs. Francis Edie pointed out that children who have been abused, are more likely to display behavioural problems, including involvement in risky sexual behaviours, truancy, delinquency, low academic achievement, substance abuse, among others. “In support of the theme for Child Month, the Children’s Registry wishes to encourage each and every one of us to give our children the chance to grow up. Let us encourage them to stand up and speak out if they are being abused. Let us build the type of relationship with our children where they feel comfortable to share with us the issues that affect them,” she added.
Persons wishing to report any case of child abuse can call toll free at: 1-888- PROTECT (776-8328).
Observed annually throughout the month of May, Child Month allows for special attention to be placed on the nation’s children and the public made aware of some of the issues affecting them, and what can be done to help alleviate the problems.