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Hotline to disclose child abuse now available 24/7

Published:Thursday | January 12, 2017 | 12:00 AMEdmond Campbell

The hotline to make reports of incidents of child abuse will now be working 24 hours a day, eight hours more than the previous 16 hours it operated. This move by the Government comes in the wake of increased reports of child abuse.

The Office of the Children's Registry (OCR) currently operates the 1-888-PROTECT hotline from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. When reports are made to the OCR, the agency establishes a case number then refers the matter to one of several departments, including the Child Development Agency, the Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse (CISOCA), and the Children's Advocate.

Speaking yesterday at the post-Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House, Minister of Education and Information Ruel Reid said that funding for the hotline has been increased.

In recent times, there has been intense public debate about issues of child abuse in the wake of the alleged sexual assault of a 15-year-old girl by a 64-year-old Moravian pastor, who has since been charged with having sex with a minor.

Rupert Clarke, the minister of religion who allegedly interfered with the child, has received bail.




Yesterday, Reid told journalists that CISOCA had disclosed its intention to charge the alleged perpetrator with carnal abuse resulting from an alleged sexual relationship with one of the minor's sisters when she, too, was 15 years old.

The information minister said that the younger of the two sisters has been referred to the Child Development Agency's (CDA) clinical psychologist for assessment and counselling.

The other members of the family have been referred to the Children and Family Support Unit of the CDA based on reports of sexual abuse.

At the same time, the mother and two daughters have also been referred to the CDA to benefit from a parenting workshop.

Assistance is also being sought from Food For The Poor to provide proper housing for the family.

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Reid urged Jamaicans and members of the community, in particular, where the minor resides, to treat the family with sensitivity.

Increased funding is also earmarked for the National Parenting Commission to carry out comprehensive work as it relates to training for parents.

Reid announced that the Government would be allocating an additional $25.8 million to finance the work of the commission for the next financial year.

The management of children's homes would also be strengthened in the new fiscal year, according to the information minister. "We are not only hearing the cries of the children and Jamaica, generally, but we are responding in a very positive and fulsome way," he added.