Minister of Youth and Culture, Hon. Lisa Hanna, is appealing to members of the public to report suspected cases of child abuse to the relevant authorities.
Miss Hanna, who made the plea Tuesday April 3, during a signing ceremony at the Ministry’s Trafalgar Road offices in Kingston, warned that “not reporting child abuse, incidences of crime against a child, is not only illegal, but you can be penalised for it under the Child Care and Protection Act."
“I believe it is time we start cracking down on those persons, who know of incidences and we penalise them for it,” she stated.
She noted that while the Child Development Agency (CDA) and the Office of the Children’s Registry (OCR) have been doing tremendous work, “people can prevent these things from actually taking place if they would step up (and) make the requisite reports”.
She said she would be charging the CDA and the OCR with making regular, targeted, strategic interventions in the public domain, to make people aware of what is actually taking place with regards to children, noting that the number of reports of child abuse annually will “boggle your mind”.
“Let us not wait for the media to do it. Let us, as a Ministry, make them aware of what actually is taking place within the society and within the responsibilities of parenting and the abuses that are taking place with children,” she stated.
Minister Hanna, in the meantime, informed that the relevant authorities will be looking into responsible parenting.
This measure, she said, comes against the background of recently garnered statistics, which reveal that a number of mothers with children in state care, continue to have more children.
“There are a number of things we need to look at as a country especially in our 50th year of Independence, going forward, in terms of how we perceive parenting, family life, socialisation and really how we take responsible actions as parents,” she argued.
Under the Child Care and Protection Act (2004), it is an offence to fail to report known or suspected child abuse to the Children’s Registry. The penalty for such an offence is imprisonment for six months, a fine of $500,000, or both.
Persons, who wish to make a report to OCR, may do so by calling the toll free number 1-888-PROTECT (1-888-776-8328) or by calling 908-2132/ 822-7031 (LIME) or 878-2882 (Digicel) between the hours 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., Monday to Friday.
People may also visit the Children’s Registry at 12 Carlton Crescent, Kingston 10 or fax the report to 908-0246 or email it to email@example.com
Since its inception, the OCR has received over 24,000 reports of child abuse, with an estimated 7,000 reports received in 2011 alone.
By Chris Patterson, JIS Reporter