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  • Minister of Youth and Culture, Hon. Lisa Hanna, says the time has come to stop the abuse of the country’s children and is appealing for parents, guardians and members of communities to join the Government in the fight against the scourge.
  • The Minister, who was speaking at a ‘Pon di corna’ reasoning session held on March 20 at the Half-Way-Tree Transportation Centre in Kingston, said persons can assist by reporting known or suspected cases of abuse, including neglect.
  • She said the Ministry “is seeing too many situations of young children being sexually abused, but are afraid to report it because the person who abuses them is an older person, or probably a member of the family.”

Minister of Youth and Culture, Hon. Lisa Hanna, says the time has come to stop the abuse of the country’s children and is appealing for parents, guardians and members of communities to join the Government in the fight against the scourge.

“The time has come in Jamaica to stop the abuse. The time has come to stop the incest. We can’t do it on our own, we have been investigating, we have been taking children away, it has to start from the communities,” she said.

The Minister, who was speaking at a ‘Pon di corna’ reasoning session held on March 20 at the Half-Way-Tree Transportation Centre in Kingston, said persons can assist by reporting known or suspected cases of abuse, including neglect.

She said the Ministry “is seeing too many situations of young children being sexually abused, but are afraid to report it because the person who abuses them is an older person, or probably a member of the family.” As such, she said, it is the adults who must step in and make a report.

She noted that procedures are in place at the Office of the Children’s Registry (OCR) and the Child Development Agency (CDA) to deal with reports of abuse.

“You don’t have to come in person. You can just call. You don’t even have to give your name and all you have to do is say the address of where that child is being molested or abused or the school the child goes to,” she pointed out.

Reports of known or suspected cases of abuse, neglect and abandonment can be reported to the OCR at 1-888-protect (776-8328), the police at 119 or call the CDA at 948-1145, or any of the CDA’s parish offices.

Minister Hanna informed that the Ministry receives about 220 calls per week of children, who are being abused, adding that the Ministry investigated some 4,000 such reports in 2014.

“This is a serious matter. But what helps is when you (report) it. When children are killed and then the community says, ‘bwoy, we did suspect something did a gwaan’ that doesn’t help the child after the child has died,” she lamented.

She warned that persons could be charged if they know about a child being abused or neglected and do nothing.

She informed that persons can also be charged for the sexual grooming of a child.

“If a man or a woman comes and offers you a cell phone and tells you three times, how good you look, how you look fat, how you are developing , what a way you walk nice, what a way you cute,  you can make a report against an adult that they are trying to sexually groom you,” she explained.

Minister Hanna also called on adults to keep information obtained from abused children in confidence.

“And those of you who are in leadership, make sure when a child comes to you do not chat their business with anybody else. Let them thrust you to know that if they say something to you, it stays there,” she added.

Students and their parents at the rap session also received flyers, brochures and reading material on child abuse, and school safety tips from staff of the CDA and the National Youth Service (NYS).

The reading material contained messages such as: ‘Big man leave the little children alone’; ‘Tek lead don’t abuse the youth with special need’; ‘Don’t abuse each other’; Respect yourself’; ‘I respect me’; and ‘Sexy but not having sex’.

Other speakers at the session were the Executive Director of the NYS, Melvin Smith, and the Principal of Genesis Academy, Donna Lowe. Entertainment was provided by Jamaican artiste, Nature.