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'Let's Talk: Don't Walk' Programme launched to tackle problem of children running away

Published:Friday | May 18, 2018 | 12:00 AMJodi Ann Gilpin/Gleaner Writer
From left: Tshani JaJa, director of marketing for Yello Media Group, with Ramario Ricketts of Excelsior High and Betty Ann Blaine, founder of Hear the Children's Cry in conversation at the Hear The Children's Cry and the Yello Media Special Child Month 2018 launch of their runaway prevention programme 'Let's Talk; Don't Walk'. The ceremony was held at Yello Media Group's Constant Spring Road offices on Wednesday.

Recognising that some children encounter tumultuous situations at home, Betty Ann Blaine, co-founder of Hear the Children's Cry, has said that she still wanted them to consider options other than running away.

In sharing details about the new 'Runaway Prevention Programme', which operates under the slogan, 'Let's Talk : Don't Walk', Blaine indicated that a major part of the initiative was to focus on the problems associated with running away, in addition to providing avenues through which children could express themselves. She also said that a crucial part of the programme would be the introduction of online counselling.

"We know that children who are considering running away don't have a runaway plan for the most part. So when they run away, they have absolutely no idea where they are going to stay, where they are going to live. They don't know how and what they will eat. They don't have adequate clothing, and they don't know how they are going to survive," Blaine told the gathering during the launch of the programme at the Yello Media Group Corporate Offices in St Andrew.

"We want them (children) to be aware of the hazards of running away. We know that life at home can be really hard and challenging for children," Blaine argued. "But we want children to know and understand that when you leave home, it is 100 per cent worse. You become even more vulnerable than when you are at home. So, the message that we want to tell the children is to speak to a trusted adult," she continued.

The children's rights advocate also said that while she was happy that the missing children figures were showing a decrease, she was still concerned that many cases went unreported.

In endorsing the initiative, Everton Hannam, president of the National Parent Teachers' Association, said that he was equally passionate about the 'Runaway Prevention Programme', and would be doing all that was necessary to get the parents involved.

"I want to take the time to commend the many parents who are doing outstanding work with their children; but, equally, there are those parents who are lawless and ruthless, and are creating mayhem in the society - those will be our focus."