OCA Calls for Collective Responsibility in the Fight Against Child Abuse

Kingston, Jamaica, November 20, 2012 --(PR.com)-- As Jamaica joins forces with international partners and organizations worldwide to commemorate Universal Children’s Day today, November 20, 2012, the Office of The Children’s Advocate (OCA), is reminding all Jamaicans that as a nation we must share in the collective responsibility of ensuring that all our children are loved, protected and adequately provided for.

Children’s Advocate, Diahann Gordon Harrison, noted that despite various challenges Jamaica has made significant strides in the area of child development, as Jamaica is ranked among the leading countries in the Caribbean and Latin American region. “Our infant mortality rate stands at 19 per 1,000 live births; we have achieved universal access to primary education; there have also been tremendous improvements in the early childhood sector, among other positive developmental indicators which map the progress of our children.”

Mrs. Gordon-Harrison noted however that despite the strides being made, the issue of child abuse and neglect continues to be a growing cause for concern. “If child abuse is not addressed in a multi-dimensional way, it stands the chance of possibly erasing our gains as a nation. For too long some amongst us have sat silently while these horrid acts against our children continue. Persons in every village, every community and by extension every person who has any relevant information, must break their silence and assist the authorities in bringing the perpetrators before the courts, as the mechanisms that currently exist cannot perform effectively if the cases that warrant investigation and prosecution are kept secret. Together, we also must strive to rescue those children who continue to be the subject of abuse or who are in vulnerable situations. I am nonetheless optimistic that the work being undertaken by the OCA along with its sector partners is yielding success, and I am confident that all well thinking Jamaicans will continue to support our work.”

“In the words of former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela: there can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children,” the Children’s Advocate added.

Under the Child Care and Protection Act (2004) every adult is obligated by law to file a report to the Children’s Registry, if they know or suspect that a child is or is likely to be abused. Section 6 of the Act goes even further, by outlining individuals deemed ‘prescribed persons’ and their mandatory obligation to file a report. These ‘prescribed persons’ include: doctors, nurses, dentists and all other health professionals; principals, teachers, guidance counselors, social workers, child day care facility workers, and all persons who by virtue of their occupation discharge a duty of care towards a child. Failure to report may result in a fine not exceeding $500,000 or six months imprisonment or both.

The Office of the Children's Advocate pledges its continued commitment to the children of Jamaica, and implores all Jamaicans to stand with us in the protection of the nation builders of tomorrow.

For further information contact:
Nicole Hayles
Manager, Public Education and Special Projects
Telephone: (876) 948-1293 / 948-3771
Office of The Children's Advocate
Nicole Hayles (Manager, Public Education & Special Projects)
(876) 948-1293