Jamaicans urged to do more to protect children 

STATE minister in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information Floyd Green is imploring Jamaicans to do more to protect the nation’s children by telling what they know about incidents of child abuse.

“As a society, are we doing enough?…I think we all have a greater role to play. Unless we all recognise that every child is our individual responsibility, as if that child were our own, then we will continue to have these issues (child abuse),” he said.

Green was addressing the media launch of the Office of the Children’s Advocate (OCA) public education campaign on child abuse at the agency’s offices in downtown Kingston on Tuesday.

He lamented that it is becoming too commonplace to hear of children being abused and even murdered in Jamaica, noting that many people are aware of ongoing circumstances of child abuse but refuse to speak up.

“When we know what is happening (we need to) call the authorities. (There is) the Child Development Agency (CDA), the Office of the Children’s Registry (OCR) and the OCA,” he noted.

Green said the Government has taken a zero-tolerance approach to child abuse, pointing to several initiatives that have been undertaken in the Ministry of National Security, as well as the youth ministry.

He pointed particularly to the ongoing Break the Silence Campaign by the ministry, which encourages citizens to speak up in cases of child abuse. He said the OCA’s campaign will help to bolster this initiative.

Green noted that the OCA’s campaign presents an innovative way to bring a number of issues to the fore “and to help our young people confront those issues…and also encourage our young people, when they are facing issues of abuse, to speak up”.

Dubbed ‘Aria’s Story’, the campaign is in the form of an online animated miniseries that will be rolled out across various social media platforms.

The episodes, which will begin airing on Monday, February 13, define and highlight the nature and types of abuse that children experience in order to empower those in abusive situations to take preventative action and find solutions.

Follow ‘Arias Story’ on the website: www.ariastory.com, which will have interactive content, and feedback is invited. There is also an Instagram and twitter handle: @readariastory; as well as the hashtag #ariastoryoca to encourage discussion on issues that will be raised.

This initiative is being undertaken with funding support from the High Commission of Canada in Jamaica.

— JIS

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