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Parents urged to teach children early about body parts, sex


CHIEF executive officer of the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA) Rosalee Gage-Grey has called on adults to sensitise children about sex and their body parts early.

Gage-Grey, who was addressing this week’s Jamaica Observer Monday Exchange, was speaking against the background of the increasing numbers of child sex abuse cases being reported.

“We advise that parents and guardians and persons who interface with children from as early as they can understand use age appropriate ways of communicating to children. There are some people who feel that if they talk to children about sex they are going to do it; they are doing it anyway so we have to get the information to them,” she told Observer editors and reporters.

“One of the basic things we advocate for is that as early as possible teach your children to use the bathroom on their own and also to bathe themselves. One of the other critical things is you must teach them the correct names for their body parts,” the CPFSA head said.

She said the agency has had to be finding ways to help children who have been abused to express what was done to them by their abusers.

“One of the things that we did when we recognised that we were having younger children who were being abused is introduced art and play therapy to our social workers. A number of them have been trained. Play is the language of the child, we use these methodology to help them communicate and we have used this successfully in a number of cases in preparing younger children for the courts,” she told the Observer.

She said dolls and toys also form part of the approach.

“We have model courthouses set up where when we are preparing the child for court, then they see how the court is set up,” Gage-Grey stated.

In the meantime, CPFSA’s Deputy Registrar Warren Thompson said one child appropriate way of educating children about how to guard their bodies was through colour coding where “green light parts” are those areas that are safe to touch, “yellow light body parts” are those that someone should ask first about touching and “red light body parts” are those strictly off limits which should not be touched.

— Alicia Dunkley-Willis

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