Acting CEO of the Child Development Agency Rosalee Gage-Grey says “enough is enough”, calling for a collective commitment in ending child abuse and creating a society fit for children.
Mrs. Gage-Grey was speaking on the occasion of the Agency’s Prayer Vigil and Concert to commemorate World Day for the Prevention of Child Abuse at the Mandela Park in Half-Way Tree on Tuesday (November 19).
She noted that despite the measures put in place by the various stakeholders, children continue to be violated in their homes, communities and many other areas of society.
The Acting CEO pointed to statistics from the Police had indicated that over 130 children were killed violently or under tragic circumstances (murder and tragic accidents) between January 2012 and October of this year,” Mrs. Gage-Grey said, we are also seeing an increase in reports to the Office of the Children’s Registry (OCR) which has been received over 25,000 reports of abuse between 2007 and 2012.
“Every time a child is abused, every time a child is killed, it is the loss of a “potential”, a promise; a hope…our society will never have the benefit of what these children could have been and the contribution they could have made,” Mrs. Gage-Grey said.
Mrs. Gage-Grey noted that the Agency continues to work with its partners to implement prevention strategies while responding to reports of child abuse. “CDA’s teams are very active in communities, carrying out intervention, training and awareness activities to engage members of the society in child abuse prevention,” she explained.
She pointed to the work of the Agency’s Children and Family Support Unit (CFSU) which has continued to provide early intervention for children and their families who are at risk, through counseling; parenting workshops, and social intervention (working with partners) to connect clients with organizations that can help them economically.
Mrs. Gage-Grey added that the CDA is involved in the Multi-Agency partnership which has been providing services to child victims who come to the centre for help. Under the Multi-Agency Partnership involving the CDA, the Office of the Children’s Registry, the Office of the Children’s Advocate, and the Victim Support Unit, a CDA Officer is stationed at the CISOCA office where she is on hand to provide services to the victims who come into that centre for help.
In recounting some of the issues that have impacted children in Jamaica, Mrs. Gage-Grey noted, “Children are attacked as family feuds and gang vendettas play out in our communities, and toddlers and young children are brought into health facilities and social services agencies stricken with sexually-transmitted diseases because a family-member violated their innocence.”
Mrs. Gage-Grey said, “Today is a call for us as members of society to say enough is enough, and pledge to take a stand to protect the lives of our innocent and beloved children.”
Members of the CDA’s Children’s Advisory Panel (CAP) also read a declaration seeking strong action to end violence against children. The CDA Children’s Advisory Panel was established to provide child-friendly policy advice to members of the Agency’s Executive Management Team (EMT).
In making the declaration, Chairman Charles Young expressed concern that the rights of children are still being violated in Jamaica. “For too long our children have been neglected, exploited and mistreated in various ways. Most of these cases of abuse and neglect take place in families and communities, with the knowledge of the member of community.”
He added that for far too long children have been placed on the periphery of society and robbed of their true self-worth, pride and dignity, adding that verbal abuse is a common occurrence in society because many persons believe that children should be seen and not heard.
While calling on society to adopt a zero-tolerance approach towards violence against children, Mr. Young also noted that children should be given a greater voice in society and greater participation in national life.
`Others addressing the event included Registrar of the Office of the Children’s Registry Greig Smith and Operations Officer of the Community Safety and Security Branch of the JCF Supt. Stephanie Lindsay.
At the event, candles were lit in memory of those children who lost their lives tragically during the course of the year. In addition to Mrs. Gage-Grey, Charles Young, Mr. Greig Smith, and Supt. Stephanie Lindsay, those lighting candles included South African High Commissioner Her Excellency Mathu Joyini; Principal Director in the Ministry of Youth and Culture Dahlia Harris who lit on behalf of Youth Minister Lisa Hanna, and Pamela Sadler mother of Shareifa Saddler, a teen who was violently killed earlier this year.
The Commemoration of World Day for the Prevention of Child Abuse was capped off with performances by Kevin Downswell; Jermaine Edwards; Kerron Ennis, Duane Stephenson; Nexchange, Rondell Positive, Tiffany and Annakay Brooks.
School performances came from Ascott High; Lister Mair-Gilby Snr. School for the Deaf; Allman Town Primary, and the Salvation Army School for the Blind. Emcee for the night was Dervan Malcolm, and Pastor Richard Hinds, Youth Pastor of Church on the Rock said a prayer for the nation’s children.
Contact: Prudence N. Barnes