Murders, mysterious deaths, suicides are things we often see in movies but not the imagery one wants to have when thinking about the realities of children.
Sadly, this has proved the experience of some families in Jamaica as they hollered over the graves of toddlers and teenagers who should have outlived their parents.
The Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA) which has a mandate to provide care and protection for children at risk or otherwise deemed to be in need and protection is very concerned about the levels of abuse couple with the effects of the pandemic.
Within 12 weeks and over last 48 hours we have seen reports of children being mauled by dogs, victims of gunshots; the latest age 4, children drowned in two separate incidences and the most recent- two boys, ages 10 and 8 years old from Discovery Bay, St. Ann who allegedly ingested a concoction prepared by a community member.
Added to this, the almost year-long pandemic continues to affect our children. Though young, they almost experience the same anxieties and fears we all face. They too have been victims of depression and suicidal ideations. For many, education has been hampered due to a lack of resources in one way or the other. For many also the time of lock down as is the case worldwide would have been at increased risk of being abuse especially as adults’ economic realities have been pressured. Again, because of the pandemic many who would have had outlets for assistance cannot access these-such as guidance counsellors, and teachers.
As evidenced by the pandemic, the preliminary data on child abuse reports received by the National Children’s Registry indicates a monthly average of 780 for 2020 in comparison to monthly average of 1145 in 2019.
The CPFSA continues to respond to the needs of children and their families. The Children and Family Support Unit and our field services team continue to provide the necessary intervention. It has heightened the need for greater social protection and a collaborative approach by MDAs, and private sector to respond to the challenges presented.
We call on ALL JAMAICANS to unite for our children. It is time for action and until we have come to the realization that violence against our children and the abuse of our children cannot be fixed by any one grouping, these negative trends will continue.
Remember our children are our best assets. Let us together, as one country, work to keep them safe and protected from harm in all forms.
Every Child Deserves Protection.