MONTEGOBAY, ncu- On Thursday, November 14, 2019, scores of people gathered at the Montego Bay Civic Centre to partake in the Child Protection and Family Service Agency’s (formerly CDA)- Child Protection Forum. Dignitaries from all points of the island, civil servants, citizens, secondary and tertiary students were all present. Of course among the numbers was a batch of first year social workers I
training from the Montego Bay Western Regional Campus.
Amongst the speakers were the Custos of the parish of St. James, the Chief Executive Officer of the Child Protection and Family Service Agency, the director of the National Road Safety Council. Through panel discussions we heard individual opinions, testimonies and interventions from persons who are active in the field. Through this forum, we were not only made aware of the many evils that children are exposed to, but we were made aware of the many preventative strategies and organisations that are in place to help these children.
These range from special investigations sectors, to the Ananda Alert. Through severely persuasive, but comical speeches from both Mr. Kenute Hare and Floyd Mclean, Director of National Road Safety and the Assistant Commissioner of the Fire Brigade respectively, it was brought to the public that child abuse came not only in the form of physical, sexual and emotional abuse. Instead we were shown that failure to obey the road codes and failure in meeting the standards of proper housing putting our children at risk, by default is abuse.
Through the panelists the segway for the effects of social media was opened. It was brought to the attention of the public that there was a 13-66% increase of depressed, distressed and suicidal children who utilized social media. This opened a broader discussion to the audience, where various members of the audience including individuals from the Sam Sharpe Teacher’s College weighed in on this controversial topic. Along with social media, the issue of missing children was raised. In a report the island of Jamaica registered 727 cases of missing children since January- May 2019, of this only 492 returned home. This figure is suspected to include cases of trafficking, rapes and eventually deaths. It was then mentioned that Jamaica was one of the top eight countries in the International Partnership for the Protection of Children; the only Caribbean country involved in such an organization. This proved that as rampant the cases of child abuse are and of missing children are, Jamaica is adamant in saving its children.
Finally, Mrs. Rosalee Gage, Chief Executive Officer of the Child Protection and Family Service Agency mentioned “ the aim of the CPFSA is not about just taking your child, in fact the best place for a child is the home.” The aim of the CPFSA instead is to ensure the protection of each child even from the unfortunate situations of troubled homes, or incapable parents. Mrs. Gage then ended her speech with “it is the responsibility of no one agency, but it is up to us to protect wi Pitney dem!”