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‘Stop child abuse’

Students join CDA in march against child abuse

BY RENAE DIXON Observer staff reporter dixonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, June 09, 2014    

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Scores of students from several St Ann schools took to the streets, recently, to plead for an end to the abuse of the nation's children.

"Stop child abuse," the students chanted as they marched through the parish capital last Thursday, with posters depicting the types of abuse children face.

The occasion was the third annual march against child abuse organised by the Child Development Agency (CDA). With the cases of child abuse on the rise, it did not take any persuasion for several bystanders to join in the procession as it passed through the town of St Ann's Bay.

The march ended at the St Ann Parish Library where the children showcased their talents at a short ceremony. Guest speaker at the event was Lasco Top Cop Sergeant Hodel Harris, who spoke to the students about their personal safety. She pointed out that children are the future professionals and so they need to be protected.

"What will happen if you don't take care of them?" she questioned.

Carlyn Stewart, team leader for the CDA, St Ann said the march was a successful one.

"Every year that we do it, the response is better," she told the Jamaica Observer North East.

The group, she said, was also pleased with the level of response from the public as the children marched through the St Ann capital.

"The response from the community was good; some (even) joined in the procession," she added.

Stewart said she was also impressed with the poster designed by the students.

"They went all out," she said. There was also a poster competition with Ocho Rios High emerging winner, followed by Lime Hall Primary and Columbus Prep in second and third place respectively.

Stewart said students are already excited about next year's event which will see them continuing to express their views on child abuse in Jamaica .

"We spend a lot of time as adults bringing that message, but it is stronger when it comes from the children," Stewart said, adding that while the CDA tries to convey the message of child abuse, the affected group was also effective in showcasing the abuse they face.

She said the march was also an attempt to get more children to be aware that they have a voice.

Kamisha McKenzie of the CDA said the march helped to raise the awareness of child abuse and to allow children to know that they have a voice.

Jenna Waite from the Office of the Children's Registry used the occasion to make the students aware of the different types of abuse and the necessary organisations to contact if faced with this situation. Eve for Life Jamaica was also a part of the march.

Student of York Castle High School Lambert Hamilton, who sang at the ceremony, also voiced his concern on child abuse.

"Child abuse is becoming an issue and we want it to stop," he said.

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