Listen to your children more– CISOCA boss
Superintendent of Police Charmaine Shand, who heads the Centre for Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse (CISOCA), is advising parents and guardians to take time out to listen more to their children because, by doing so, they can help to protect them from being abused.
Speaking during a recent virtual sensitisation session for justices of the peace (JPs) islandwide, which was staged by Justice Minister Delroy Chuck, under the theme ‘A discussion on child abuse in Jamaica’, Shand urged the JPs, many of whom are parents, to always find time to give a listening ear to their children so they can know what is happening in their lives.
“Justices, you need to encourage adults to listen to their children, because a lot of them talk about being touched that makes them very uncomfortable, but we really do not listen to them. Some parents or guardians will just dismiss the children and tell them that they do not want to hear the complaints, which, in many instances, will lead to further abuse,” the CISOCA boss said.
“This (sexual touching) is an offence, and a lot of children are being touched inappropriately. One thing you need to do is to listen to your children,” added Shand.
She said some of the cases being dealt with by CISOCA are rape, buggery, incest, child abuse, sexual touching and sexual grooming.
Although not giving any statistics to bear out her statement, Shand said that the most prevalent of the cases which come up for investigation by CISOCA is that of sexual intercourse with children under 16 years of age.
She also implored the media to be very careful and responsible when reporting matters involving children, as it could further traumatise them if their identities are revealed, or if reports are done in such a way that links can be made to identify them.
The CISOCA boss also sought to create a link between child abuse and unfit or the absence of parenting, which, she argued, can lead to a child being in mortal danger.
Making reference to a recent video which went viral on social media, in which two boys were seen sitting on a motorcycle smoking what appeared to be a marijuana spliff, Shand described the scenario as a typical case of “parents who are unfit, and are not exercising proper care and guardianship”.
She also outlined a number of situations under which some children have to live, describing them as putting the children in danger, or a situation in which they are likely to face abuse, while also stating that a number of cases that are being investigated by her agency involve some of those circumstances.
In speaking to the same issue, Chuck described the child abuse situation in Jamaica as a pandemic and called on JPs to get more involved in identifying the instances of abuse in their respective communities and ensure that these matters are reported to the authorities.
“Yes, we have the COVID-19 pandemic, but we have other pandemics in this country. Apart from crime, we have a particular form of crime, domestic violence, and another form of crime which is a real pandemic in our society, child abuse,” said Chuck. “Our children – helpless, vulnerable, dependent on us for care and protection – are being abused daily.”