With the high levels of violence being meted out against the nation’s children, a team from the Child Development Agency (CDA) on Friday (March 27) took to the streets of Yallahs in St. Thomas for a child abuse prevention and protection sensitisation walk under the theme “Protecting Children, Transforming Lives, Securing the Future”.
Led by the CDA’s Regional Director for the South East Region, Robert Williams, the walk got underway at 10:00am in the town and continued throughout the communities of Newlands and Pondside until afternoon.
The exercise saw CDA personnel visiting shops, stores, supermarkets, restaurants, as well as taxi stands, vending stalls, schools, churches, health centres, post offices, and general public areas.
Mr. Williams explained that the aim of the walk through was to explain to community members the negative effects of child abuse and neglect on children, their families, and by extension the wider society, and to encourage citizens to help safeguard the nation’s children.
“Child protection should be everybody’s business and we wanted to reach out to the public, especially our men, with the message that our children must be protected and their rights respected,” Mr. Williams said, adding that the St. Thomas walk was just one in a series planned by the Agency for different parts of the island.
The walk was well supported by CDA staff, law enforcers, the church in the parish and members of the community, Mr. Williams observed, adding that the team was able to have face to face conversations with a number of key groups.
“Based on feedback from community members, the initiative taken by the Agency was very timely and worthwhile, considering the fact that the nation’s children are constantly being victimised and killed,” he stated.
Commending the CDA for its work, Commanding Officer for the St. Thomas Division, Deputy Superintendent Charmaine Shand said that the Police worked very closely with the CDA, and would continue to support its activities for the benefit of the nation’s children.
“The Police are committed to carrying out our duties in partnership with Agencies such as the CDA, because children are our future, and we all have to join the fight in protecting them from abuse,” Deputy Superintendent Shand underscored.
She also felt that the walk was a very good intervention for the community members, considering the recent cases of violent attacks on children in the parish.
“We saw where the community members were very receptive to the team in carrying out their duty. We believe that the more persons are educated about child abuse (the greater the possibility) that we will have a better Jamaica fit for our children,” she said.
In the meantime, Business Owner in Yallahs town Leroy McIntosh, said that he welcomed the initiative because many persons were not educated about child abuse and the needed to learn how to protect the nation’s children.
“We need more of these activities in the town of Yallahs, because some of these young men are preying on our children, especially our young girls, who sometimes are incapable of making conscious decisions.
“So we want to see more of CDA and other organisations championing the cause of child protection, sending the abusers a message, and reaching out to community members. It is a good move and we welcome it with open arms,” he said.
The CDA which is charged with the responsibility of safeguarding the wellbeing of children in need of care and protection will continue to focus and target specific communities across the island with high incidents of child abuse.
Contact: CDA PR Unit