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Big push to reduce impact of violence on children


THE Government is moving to increase psychosocial intervention to reduce the impact of violence on children.

Figures released by Minister of Education, Youth and Information Fayval Williams during her presentation in the sectoral debate last week show that 20.6 per cent of children in the Greater Kingston Metropolitan Area witnessed violence in their community in 2018, while 7.3 per cent witnessed violence at home.

In other urban centres, 6.9 per cent of the children witnessed violence in their community while 1.7 witnessed violence in their homes. In rural areas, 2.2 of the children witnessed violence in their community and 2.8 witnessed violence in their homes.

Against this background, state minister in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information Robert Morgan told a Jamaica Observer Press Club meeting last Friday that every effort is being made to drastically reduce the impact of violence on children by 2023.

According to Morgan, this is among eight targets outlined in the five-year National Plan of Action for an Integrated Response to Children and Violence (NPACV).

One target is reducing the number of reported cases of violence against children in targeted communities by 15 per cent, while the other target is increasing adult population awareness of the link between corporal punishment and trauma, as well as alternatives to violent discipline by 30 per cent.

“Yes, they can [be achieved] and that’s where the ‘Good Parenting’ campaign comes in. The zero-tolerance approach that we have taken within the government system to corporal punishment is a part of the plan to achieve that goal,” said Morgan.

The NPACV was launched by Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA) in 2019 to create and maintain a protective environment supportive of, and responsive to the issues of violence, child abuse and maltreatment of the nation’s children.

Morgan explained that while implementing a zero-tolerance approach to corporal punishment by the Government is necessary, educating the public on the traumatic effects of child abuse is also important.

“One of the things that we have noticed is that unless you enforce the zero-tolerance approach within the government system while at the same time educating the population within the national society about the danger and the damage that using violence as a means of instruction does, then people are going to say ‘Me get beaten and successful, so weh unu a cuss bout?’

“So, a lot of the things we are doing are interconnected. The work that we are doing in the education system to deal with resocialising and psychosocial intervention [is] with our students and parents,” said Morgan.

He added: “The work that we are doing on the childcare side, through the CPFSA and National Parenting Support Commission, is to craft a Good Parenting campaign that is not just a one-year campaign…but a long-term, 10-15-year campaign to teach people better ways of interacting with their children. It will cause us to achieve those goals.”

The Good Parenting campaign is one of several activities which will be staged by CPFSA in celebration of National Child Month 2021. It aims to educate parents about the negative impacts of corporal punishment while reinforcing positive disciplining.

“I suspect that as more of the society recognises that our propensity to using violence as a means of socialisation is a significant contributor to our propensity as adults to use violence as dispute resolution, we [will be] very driven and very focused that we need to end the practice of corporal punishment in our society,” he said.

Morgan added that putting an end to corporal punishment is thus not an option, but a necessity.

“All the studies are showing us the damage. Not only that, but we cannot just go to parents and say ‘Stop beat u pickney’…What are the tools we are equipping them with? What kind of resocialisation are they getting to say ‘Well don’t beat but motivate, nurture and have a conversation and see how you can use incentives to influence your child to good behaviour rather than using punitive measures,’ ”said Morgan.

He argued that the problems Jamaica faces with children will not be solved by a singular intervention.

“The problems that we have with children will take a whole-country approach to consistently intervene in the lives of our children and our parents in order to change the socialisation culture that exists within the society, and that is what we are trying to do,” Morgan said.

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