JIS News

The Victim Services Division (VSD) is strengthening its preventative approach to support provided for children who are victims of crime.

The Division supports the Ministry’s mandate of providing social justice services to Jamaicans through delivering psychosocial support for victims of crime as well as advancing efforts that promote victims’ rights.

With special emphasis being placed on not just providing support but also advancing efforts centred around protecting children, the VSD has been working to promote the various tools they have in place to serve the nation’s youth.

Speaking at a JIS ‘Think Tank’ today (May 13), Justice Minister, Hon. Delroy Chuck, reiterated the Government’s commitment to preventing crimes against children, especially in the form of abuse.

“What the Victim Services Division is hoping to do as we move forward is not just reacting to victims who have been suffering from abuses and violence and attacks but we now want to tell the community at large, if you see any indication where abuses are or may be occurring, that you try to refer the potential victims to come to us. This, so we can see how we can avoid either the initial or actual abuses. We want to stop all abuses that may occur,” Mr. Chuck said.

The Minister highlighted his instructions to the division to not just listen to persons who have been abused but to continue working towards providing critical resources that can prevent abuse in the first instance.

“[The VSD] does enough of that – the counselling and assisting victims who have suffered, but what we are also asking generally of the country at large, is if you see indication of children who are being abused or who are likely to be abused, encourage them to make a report to the VSD and see if they can be counselled and given assistance to avoid the abuse. In essence, we want to find ways and means for the families to be able to report to the VSD before the actual abuses take place. Because we want to prevent rather than react to the victims being abused and attacked,” Mr. Chuck explained.

The VSD provides emotional support, crisis intervention, training for persons working on victim’s issues as well as advocacy services.

Meanwhile, Executive Director of the VSD, Osbourne Bailey, said there are specific programmes that secure a preventative approach.

“The emotional support programme is built on the premise that we get an opportunity to explore the emotions of victims. Two, the play therapy programme is designed to be able to speak the language of children who are expressing anger that others may not understand. The parenting programme is designed to build support in homes. Special intervention in schools brings peers, counsellors and parents together to build capacity to cool this anger,” Mr. Bailey said.

“We also have the Cultural Resocialisation Programme which targets children in communities plagued by crime, to try to get them to understand some of the dynamics and infuse them with competencies to respond, other than with anger,” he added.

Mr. Bailey also noted that the Division uses a one-of-a-kind tool developed inhouse, called a Bailey’s Feelings Perception Indicator.

“This tool gives the victim an opportunity to convey the series of emotions they are experiencing. It is done in a way that a child would understand it, because it has pictures as well as words. It not only gives them the opportunity to identify the particular emotions, which include anger, but it also gives them the opportunity to use a process called projection. This allows them to demonstrate how much of the emotions they are feeling. They are given a picture of a jar and they are asked to reflect how much of the emotion they are feeling,” Mr. Bailey said.

Since 2006, the VSD has provided support to more than 36,000 children through the many initiatives and programmes offered across the 14 parishes.

Persons who want to learn more about the work of the VSD and to access services can visit: moj.gov.jm or call 888 VICTIMS (888-842-8467) or 876-946-0663.

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