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Jamaicans still silent on child abuse

Saturday, April 12, 2014 | 3:52 PM    

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KINGSTON, Jamaica -- Most Jamaicans are not reporting known or suspected cases of child abuse according to data released Saturday by the Office of the Children’s Registry (OCR) and UNICEF.

The data, collected from an islandwide survey, found that while 76 per cent of professionals who work closely with children have filed a report of abuse, only 30 per cent of children and 11 per cent of adult Jamaicans have ever made a report.

"This is despite the fact that most of the persons surveyed claimed to either experience abuse, or know of a child who has recently (past three months) been abused," the release said. "This is also despite very high awareness of what constitutes different types of abuse."

The survey found that respondents who did not make reports had confidentiality issues, feared victimisation, and lacked confidence in the child care and protection system to effectively address cases of abuse.

Commissioned to learn more about child abuse and awareness and reporting patterns, the survey on ‘Knowledge, Attitude and Practices (KAP) Regarding Child Maltreatment in Jamaica’ was conducted among three populations: children ages 10- 17 attending school; professionals in institutions including teachers, guidance counsellors, social workers, and health professionals; and the general adult Jamaican populace, the release continued.

The latest OCR statistics released last week indicate a significant spike in reports of abuse between January and June 2012-2013 – a jump of close to 40 per cent.

"The KAP findings add to this startling reality, as they indicate that even with increased reporting, much of the abuse children experience is still shrouded in silence," the release said.

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