Prevention is better than cure – Ashley
Executive director of the Violence Prevention Alliance (VPA), Dr Deanna Ashley, is suggesting that focused intervention programmes on children in the early childhood years should be a preventive strategy that is employed to address the country’s crime problem.
“We know the Jamaican saying ‘prevention is better than cure’. We need to focus our interventions on our children beginning in the early years. We need to focus on helping the parents to provide that positive support to the development of our children,” she said.
Dr Ashley made the observation after presenting data on effects of violence on children at a VPA forum on ‘Pathways to the Prevention of Violence: Examining the Evidence’ at the Regional Headquarters at The University of the West Indies, Mona campus, last week Wednesday.
She also noted that there should be a change in the approach of teaching and providing more support to teachers as well as engaging more social workers in the schools.
The VPA executive director informed that children in Jamaica are exposed to a significant amount of violence as victims, as well as witnesses to violence. She noted that the violence occurs in all forms, such as physical, emotional, verbal abuse as well as neglect. Intra-family abuse and violence, she added, affected children, leading to the development of intergenerational cycles of violence.
“We need to use the data from our research, monitor and evaluate it to assess the effectiveness and impact; scale up and sustain the interventions that work and are cost-effective,” she said.
AIM OF THE FORUM
The objectives of the forum were to share data that examine the magnitude of violence in Jamaica and some of the underlying risk and protective factors; to discuss the benefits and limitations of social interventions in the prevention of violence; and to make recommendations for scaling up what works.
Meanwhile, David Osbourne, country Representative of the UK Department for International Development (DFID), commended the VPA for organising the forum and praised the organisation for its pioneering work.
“We see how the VPA has been at the forefront of efforts to bring best practices and data evidence into the drive to eliminate violence in Jamaica,” he said, noting that the organisation brought enlightenment in terms of violence being a disease, a public health problem, which is predictable and can be treated.
“I think the time has come for us to introduce new ideas and evidence … and the VPA has done a fantastic job in moving this discussion forward and we are proud to have them as a partner,” he said.
The forum was organised by the VPA in collaboration with the Caribbean Institute for Health Research; UK AID and Open Society Foundations. Other speakers at the event were: Dr Elizabeth Ward, chair of the VPA; Dr Kim Scott, director of the Child Resiliency Programme; Professor Susan Walker, director of the Caribbean Institute for Health Research; Jennifer Jones, sociologist, and Eric Allen of the Peace Management Initiative.