NEWLY formed advocacy group Help JA Children recently launched a free smartphone application to facilitate the reporting of child abuse to the Office of the Children’s Registry (OCR).
This application, named the Child Abuse Reporting System (CARS), aims to increase the number of reports into the OCR and brings to eight the number of different ways to report abuse to the OCR.
CARS which was developed by Aranis Technologies, is only available for BlackBerry smartphones, with versions for iOS and android-based devices to be completed soon. CARS can be downloaded from the BlackBerry App World and from the OCR website and is free.
Speaking at the launch, Help JA Children’s chief advocate Brandon Allwood said that according to the group’s own research CARS is the second application of its kind in the world;the first in the Caribbean region; and the first in the world to be approved by Research In Motion for listing in its BlackBerry App World.
Aranis Technologies CEO Samuel Folkes has committed to providing maintenance for the application for life.
“We saw where this was not just something worthy of participating in, but something that we felt was a good way to contribute to the nation,” Folkes said.
Casetta Green, senior registration officer at the OCR, thanked Help JA Children for having the application developed and increasing the ways in which people can fulfill their mandatory duty to report child abuse. The other methods of filing reports are via phone, email, face-to-face interview, filling out a form, snail mail and fax.
Green was alluding to Section 5 of the Child Care & Protection Act (2004) which states that it is the citizen’s responsibility to report cases of suspected and actual abuse to the OCR. If persons fail to report abuse, they may be fined up to $500,000 and face up to six months in prison.
CARS allows users to submit report anonymously, and the information entered is not cached or stored anywhere on the phone.
“The information goes directly to the Registry, where they and they alone will be able to see the information you have entered,” said Allwood.
For his part, Allwood also encouraged Jamaicans to download the application and be prepared to report abuse as well as opt to leave their information so they can follow up with the OCR about the report they made.
“People who leave their information, and be reminded that this is completely optional, will be assigned a case number by the OCR and with that number they can call the OCR and get updates as to where the office is in the investigation of that report,” he said.
Green also reminded the public that the information sent to the OCR is kept extremely confidential.
“There are charges that can be levied against the Registry for breaching confidentiality of information submitted to us, so we are particularly careful to keep all information confidential,” she said.