Partnership needed to stem child abuse, says OCR head
There were high hopes of continuing the 10 per cent reduction in the number of children who go missing across Jamaica - a trend that was achieved by the Office of the Children's Registry (OCR) in 2015 and 2016.
That dream could be thwarted this year, however, as Children's Registrar Greig Smith said the numbers are already "going in a direction that it should not go".
He reported that in 2015, there was a reduction in the number of children who had gone missing when compared to 2014. He also shared that for January to June last year, 787 children were reported missing, when compared with the same period in 2015, which recorded 872.
Speaking with The Gleaner last week, Smith said the registry is still working, in conjunction with the Jamaica Constabulary Force, on retrieving data for this year. He admitted, however, that, anecdotally, the numbers, thus far, are worrying.
"We are going to be working with children as our partners to see how it is we can achieve what we need to, in terms of the reduction in the number of children who go missing. But it is a concern that we see the numbers going in a direction that we don't want it to go, as we have seen where a number of children continue to be reported missing," he said.
PLEA FOR PARTNERS
Smith is pleading with persons who have expertise in mental and psychological training to partner with the OCR in a bid to assist with social intervention.
"We want private-sector partnership, in addition to stakeholders involving community members, because resources are not always going to be enough coming from Government. So we need persons who can come in and volunteer to give of their time to assist us in various forms," he said.
"Whether it's dealing with child abuse reports or reports of missing children, we need counsellors and psychologists who can work with children and reduce the numbers who become repeated runaways. It's not always monetary value in terms of giving resources; what we really want is human capital. Those counsellors who can give an hour or two would be appreciated."