Minister of Youth and Culture, Hon. Lisa Hanna, has said that a compilation of data on the status of Jamaica’s children is to be undertaken soon.
She said the results will inform Government policy decisions relating to children and the youth.
She informed that the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) has completed a terms of reference and “they are going to be providing the Ministry with a consultant to compile all the data”.
“That is starting very shortly (and) …will drive our policy going forward,” Miss Hanna said, as she addressed a Jamaica House press briefing on July 4 at Jamaica House.
She said it is necessary to gather all the information on children relating to issues such as sexual abuse, child labour, neglect, mental health, as the reports have been coming in “a very ad hoc way”.
Minister Hanna said she is particularly concerned about the significant increase in the number of mental health cases relating to children over the last five years, noting that the statistics have been alarming. She stated that the reasons for this increase will not be known without proper analysis of all the data.
“Mental health will be a part of that…so that we can accurately see what the data is showing us and address how it is that we deal with it,” she stated.
She informed that Chairman of the Early Childhood Commission, Professor Maureen Samms-Vaughan, has come on board and is assisting with the process “because she has done significant work in developmental child needs”.
Minister Hanna stressed her commitment to Jamaica’s children and young people in doing everything possible to ensure their holistic development.
“I am passionate about children and I’m passionate about Jamaica’s young people. There are some things we need to fix, not at the surface, we need to drill down. The only way we can drill down is to take a strategic approach, which is driven by empirical data and analysis. We have started that process and we have some more to go. In the interim, we have been doing things to stop certain gaps as it relates to our children,” she stated.
By Alecia Smith-Edwards, JIS Reporter