Wed | Sep 20, 2017

Children's Advocate supports social media as educational tool against abuse

Published:Monday | February 13, 2017 | 2:00 AMSyranno Baines
Children’s Advocate Diahann Gordon Harrison speaks with Sylvan Fabi, Canadian high commissioner to Jamaica, about the animated series on child abuse to be launched during a joint press conference to launch ‘Aria’s Story’ at the Office of the Children’s Advocate last Tuesday.

With the upsurge of violent conduct against children and with more than 85 per cent of students surveyed nationally having access to or ownership of state-of-the-art gadgets, the Office of the Children's Advocate (OCA) is adamant that utilising popular social media platforms is the most efficient method to educate children on the various forms of abuse.

According to the 2016 OCA Adolescent Internet and Smart Phone Application Survey, of the 85 per cent of students, 71 per cent have Internet access at home and 67 per cent of those questioned indicated that they are members of at least one social media platform.

 

PUBLIC EDUCATION

 

The disclosure was made during the launch of 'Aria's Story', an animated public education initiative of the OCA funded by the Canadian High Commission, which takes the form of an electronic book.

The seven-episode miniseries will be centred on the main character, eight-year-old Aria, and six other children who are experiencing various forms of abuse and how they eventually find solace in their respective situations.

"What we have decided to do is to speak about seven prominent issues of abuse that have been reported to the OCA and to highlight them using these stories. What we also found from our previous survey is that our kids are engaging with the Internet in unprecedented ways, so we thought the best way to roll out the stories is not to write a traditional book with pages to turn, but rather to do it through social media and our website," Danielle Jones, chairperson of the Research Unit of the OCA, told The Gleaner.

 

...Web series to encourage reporting on abuse

Children's Advocate Diahann Gordon Harrison said the seven-episode series 'Aria's Story', an animated public education initiative of the Office of the Children's Advocate funded by the Canadian High Commission, will serve to encourage minors to report acts of abuse while providing a channel for feedback.

"The characters look and sound Jamaican while truly depicting what Jamaican runnings can be like in various parts of our country," Gordon Harrison told The Gleaner.

"The stories and situations put the pain and negative experiences children face into sharp focus, each story ending with that reverberating message of hope, resilience and the ultimate lesson taught through each episode."

She added: "Our hope is for children in Jamaica to be empowered through the knowledge they will garner and also for adults to be exposed to the realities that some of our children face and, ultimately, for these adults to model appropriate responses to these situations."

Public input on the issues in the series will be facilitated via Twitter live chat.

The series, which can be viewed at ariastory.com, begins today.