KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Child Protection and Family and Family Services Agency (CPFSA) says that with physical abuse being a major concern for the organisation, parents, guardians and teachers are being urged to switch from corporal punishment to the positive disciplining of children.
In a release on Friday, the CPFSA said according to data from the National Children’s Registry (NCR), during the period January to August of this year, approximately 10, 486 reports of child abuse were received. Of that number, 2,321 accounted for physical abuse which to them is a “worrying trend.”
Lesia Bagwandath Vassell, deputy registrar at CPFSA’s National Children’s Registry said that physical punishment is a violation of children’s rights and emphasised that the agency takes a zero tolerance approach to such act.
“There are age-appropriate alternative forms of disciplining children, such as time-outs, withdrawal of leisure time and gadgets, reasonable detention and others,” the release read.
Vassell explained that corporal punishment is the most common form of violence against children worldwide, including Jamaica but expressed that “we want our parents, guardians and teachers to not see corporal punishment as the first and only method of disciplining children, as often times they suffer emotionally, as a result, which can pose negative lingering effects.”
“Our children are vulnerable and exhibit varying questionable behaviours, as they enter different stages of development. They sometimes misbehave for various reasons, such as throwing of tantrums, talking back, skipping school, disobeying rules and others. Nonetheless, we are kindly asking you to be patient and gentle with them, and be on high alert for noticeable and extreme changes in their behaviours that requires intervention,” she continued.
“Gone are the days when the saying ‘who cyahh hear mus feel’ was the order of the day for many children. We want our parents, guardians and teachers to shift away from that belief, no matter the actions of our children, as it does more harm than good,” she added.
The NCR’s deputy registrar is therefore reminding parents to seek alternate means of punishing their children, and remain consistent in positively disciplining them with love.
“Children will always be children, and may at times fight with their peers or siblings or simply misplace their personal belongings. We know sometimes these actions can put an emotional strain on parents and guardians, but we encourage you to talk with them before you react; as many times, items misplaced can be easily relocated with just a little help, as well as disagreements can be resolved without physical punishment. Inappropriate utterances by children can also be talked over,” she advised.
Pointing out the services of the CPFSA, she said that a Children and Family Support Unit is currently in place that provides counselling and other intervention pertinent to the needs of vulnerable children and families, aimed at strengthening household bonds.
“Parents, guardians, teachers, the CPFSA stands ready to work with you, as we are aware of some of the challenges that comes with child rearing and student-teacher interaction. We can do it together, as we are aiming to raise promising men and women of tomorrow, equipped with good morals and attributes for nation building,” she stressed.