Custos calls on JPs to get

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

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CUSTOS for the parish of St Andrew Dr Patricia Dunwell has called on justices of the peace (JPs) to get more involved in safeguarding the lives of the nation's children and youth.

At a swearing-in ceremony for JPs for the parish of St Andrew, at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston on Sunday, Dr Dunwell said many of the children and youth are in need of intervention and protection, which the JPs have the ability to undertake.

“I charge you justices of the peace to focus on the most vulnerable in our society — our children. Abuse of children is a global problem and comes in different ways — emotional, physical, sexual, online, child trafficking, [and] bullying,” Dr Dunwell said.

“Let us not forget about neglect and failure to act. Many children live at home and are abused by the very adults that they live with. When we witness this, as justices of the peace, we must speak out. We cannot be silent onlookers, we must take action,” she encouraged.

Dr Dunwell said that the Office of the Children's Registry reported that 18 out of every 1,000 children living in Jamaica in 2015 experienced some form of abuse, and research has shown that child abuse is three times higher in poor communities in Jamaica.

With this in mind, she called on JPs to create friendships with the nation's children and youth, which will allow them to want to share their stories freely, as well as the challenges and the situations affecting them inside and outside of their homes, so that they can get help when needed.

“Speak to children with respect, as respecting them will teach them to respect themselves and others. We must listen to them in order to gain their trust. They might tell us their secrets which might just be so alarming that we take corrective action,” Dr Dunwell said.

“Children live what they learn… Love them and they will learn to love themselves, love others and love their country,” she added.

Dr Dunwell also encouraged the justices of the peace to be their 'neighbour's keepers' as well.

“As justices of the peace, we become in a greater way, our neighbours' keepers. We go the extra mile, remembering that we are always on call… Let us as pledge to break the chain of abuse against our children,” she said.

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