JWN steps up campaign against child abuse
Top executives from J. Wray and Nephew (JWN) Limited, Chairman Clement 'Jimmy' Lawrence and Managing Director Jean-Philippe Beyer, noted the value of exposure in fighting against child abuse at the JWN Foundation's inaugural fundraiser, Expressions through Art - Protecting OUR Children, at The Courtleigh Auditorium in New Kingston.
The event was held to showcase Jamaica's cinematography and bring greater awareness and raise funds to implement intervention programmes for tackling child abuse, given the escalating levels of child molestation, abductions, physical abuse and murder in our society.
It featured cocktails; two short films - Shoot the Girl and Silent Hearts - both written, produced and directed by Jamaicans; a panel discussion at the end of each film; and a silent auction of JWN's premium rums that are no longer available on the market. Top of the list was this year's limited-time offer - JOY. Also included were the very rare Masterblenders Legacy and the Appleton Estate 250-year-old rums.
"This is a wonderful opportunity for us to start spreading the word," Lawrence said during discussions about child abuse, which included the panel and members of the audience. "It's very topical. If you watch CNN now, you see and hear what's happening in America.
"But here in our island, there's a lot that's in the closet with respect to people who are being abused. To the extent that we can bring this out and feel free to speak, that also is a powerful tool," noted Lawrence, who is also chairman of the JWN Foundation.
Noting that teachers can generally spot the difference in a child's behavioural pattern, Beyer reasoned that they could be given a greater role in the process of eliminating the crime.
"Shouldn't we use that great tool that we have, the great teachers right here in Jamaica, and have them be very aware of this problem and try to alert us as quickly as possible when they see something is wrong?" asked Beyer, a native of France.
Rosalee Gage-Grey, chief executive officer of the Child Development Agency (CDA), confirmed a working relationship with schools and informed that they receive 1,200 reports of child abuse monthly.
The Foundation operates within three pillars - social inclusion, education and culture - through works in developing communities surrounding its business operations in a sustainable manner. JWN's business locations are at Spanish Town Road in Kingston, New Yarmouth in Clarendon, and Appleton Estate in St Elizabeth.
Waterhouse and Seaview Gardens, both bordering its Spanish Town Road base, are counted among the communities most affected and record the highest rates of child abuse, according to the police and CDA.
Senator Pearnel Charles Jr, minister of state in the Ministry of National Security, expressed gratitude to the JWN Foundation for putting on the eye-opening fundraiser.
"Kudos to you, Jimmy and the team at the foundation, for this focus on protecting our children," said Charles. "We can't do it alone, so it's the public-private partnership that's going to move Jamaica forward."
Proceeds from this event will support programmes that will be developed by the CDA, in partnership with the JWN Foundation. These programmes will be centred on curtailing child-abuse incidents and empowering vulnerable females.