Tue | Jul 27, 2021

CPFSA urges parents to use alternative forms of discipline

Published:Wednesday | July 21, 2021 | 12:12 AM

The Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA) condemns the use of physical violence to discipline children and calls on parents to consider alternative forms of correction.

This call comes again following Tuesday’s report of a four-year-old boy being beaten by his stepfather allegedly for eating slowly. The child reportedly collapsed sometime after being beaten and was taken to the hospital where he later died. The stepfather was yesterday charged with unlawful wounding, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, cruelty to child and child abuse.

Since the start of the year there have been 1,465 reports of physical abuse of children to the CPFSA National Children’s Registry (NCR). These have included reports of beatings with sticks, pots, metal belt buckles, hoses and other implements leaving children with cuts, welts and bruises along with psychological trauma. Just this month, the Agency intervened in the case of a two-year-old girl who had suffered multiple fractures from suspected physical abuse. The police have laid charges in that case.

“We cannot as a nation continue to treat with children with such little regard. The abuse they are experiencing by the hands of caregivers is heart-wrenching. What will become of our children if they are not even safe in their own homes? We also need to take a serious look at how children are disciplined. Despite how many may have been socialised, the cultural practice of inflicting physical harm as punishment for undesirable behaviour is not the best way to discipline children. Parents must start to consider other methods of discipline as corporal punishment both harms children as well as teaches them that violence is a suitable means to fix problems,” bemoaned Rosalee Gage-Grey, chief executive officer, CPFSA.

Gage-Grey additionally noted that another worrying trend for the Agency is the harming of children due to domestic violence in the home.

“Domestic disputes appear to be a factor leading to physical harm of children to the extent that we have had reports of children being hurt as a result of fights between parents. These are mainly younger children, between one to four years, with the youngest reported being seven months old,” the CEO explained.

Making an appeal to caregivers, Gage-Grey says she is encouraging parents who may be feeling frustrated or overwhelmed to contact the agency before matters escalate. As part of its mandate, the CPFSA offers parenting training, as well as connects caregivers with other stakeholders that can provide additional support for families. Persons may contact or visit any of the CPFSA’s parish office or reach out to the Agency on social media @cpfsajm for assistance.

The CPFSA reminds all Jamaicans that they can report known or suspected cases of child abuse to 211, the Agency’s new 24-hour confidential reporting line, free from any network. They may also whatsapp/text 876-878-2882; email report@childprotection.gov.jm, or visit our parish offices islandwide.