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Persons having knowledge of instances of child abuse, or of children being used to commit illegal acts, but fail to make a report to the relevant authority, can be prosecuted under the Child Care and Protection Act.
“This is the only place in the law, this is the first time.that the law has made all of us our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers,” said Senior Resident Magistrate (RM) Rosalee Toby, as she gave the main address at a seminar hosted by the Community Service Enhancement Unit of the Department of Correctional Services recently, at the St. John’s Methodist Church Hall in Montego Bay.
“The fact is that each person here.if they suspect that a child is being abused, if they suspect that a child might be abused, if they suspect that a child is in need of care and protection, and they do not report it to the Child Development Agency, you can be charged and made to pay a fine of up to $500,000 and/or go to jail for six months,” she informed.
The RM, who works within the family court system, pointed out that children were being sent by adults to purchase liquor, cigarettes or other illegal drugs, and the act of sending the child to buy these items and as well as selling them the goods, constituted an illegal act, and the adults involved could be sent to jail.
She noted further, that businesses stood to lose their licences if it was discovered that they sold liquor or cigarettes to persons under 18 years, or allowed them to participate in any form of adult entertainment.
The Child Care and Protection Act was passed unanimously in the House of Representative and the Senate just over a year ago, and since then, personnel from the Children Services Department, the court system and the police have been hosting seminars and other group meetings, to inform the public about the law’s provisions.
“More people need to know about it; all teachers, all guidance counsellors, all nurses, all people who run day care centres, they need to know about this”, RM Toby stated, adding that the public education campaign must be extensive.