Target the dirty men

CPFSA head uses World Children's Day to plead for more protection of Jamaica's children

BY ARTHUR HALL
Editor-at-Large
halla@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, November 21, 2019

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LESS than 24 hours after the launch of the National Plan of Action: Integrated Response to Children and Violence, Rosalee Gage-Grey, head of the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA) has urged Jamaicans to reject the dirty men who prey on the nation's children.

Addressing a stakeholder meeting yesterday morning on 'The Situation of Jamaica's Children 30 years after the Convention on the Rights of the Child', Gage-Grey charged that “dutty” men were posing a real problem to the children of Jamaica.

“I think we need to get rid of the 'dutty man dem' because if we don't tackle it from the top and get to these bigger men who are abusing our children then our children, will continue to suffer in silence,” warned Gage-Grey at the function, which was also used to mark World Children's Day.

The CPFSA head had earlier argued that the nation needs to have a serious discussion on how early children should be spoken to about sexual matters.

“I think we need to clear the hurdles of the policy versus the law. I think we need to give the children the information because without that information they don't know, and they need to know. It is their right to know,” declared Gage-Grey as she pointed to an example of a five-year-old girl who was being abused but did not know that what she faced was sexual abuse.

Gage-Grey further told the audience that the major issue affecting Jamaica's children is the trauma that comes from the violence that they suffer. She argued that the nation is short of the support that the children need to deal with this trauma.

“The one-to-one, long-term intervention that these children need from clinicians, people who can sit with them for long hours, who would cause them to reverse the hurt, if that was even possible – we need a space where persons can provide the intervention to these children,” said Gage-Grey.

That is one of the headline targets of the National Plan of Action, which was just launched and which aims to achieve the goal by 2023.

“The overall goal is to create and maintain a protective environment [that is] supportive and responsive to issues of children and violence,” said Dr Elizabeth Ward of the Violence Protection Alliance, who co-chaired the committee which developed the plan.

“The first goal is about our legal and regulatory framework to ensure the protection of our children from all forms of violence and exploitation,” added Ward.

“The second item is to improve the quality and access to services. We want to increase by 20 per cent, over the five-year period, the number of children who get quality service and one of our indicators is to increase the number of case workers to children in State care,” added Ward.

The plan also seeks to ensure strengthening the capacities of the family and the community to address children and violence issues; and enhanced public education, sensitisation and training in violence prevention, the care of child victims and children's rights.

It also targets a 15 per cent reduction of violence against children in select communities.

“Can we, by 15 per cent every year, increase the capacity of parents, teachers, social workers and guidance counsellors to mitigate violence against children?” Ward questioned as she urged buy-in from all sections of society.

She also called for an increase in the amount of counselling offered and access to conflict resolution skills and anger management.


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