Facility to care for abused children opened in Portland
Youngsters in the parish of Portland who are victims of crimes and other abuses now have a child-friendly centre where they may receive counselling and other support services.
The facility, which is located at the Ministry of Justice’s Victim Support Division (VSD) Portland office at Shops 8 and 9, Bryan’s Bay Plaza, Port Antonio, was made possible through a US$6.7-million donation by the United States (US) to help fight child trafficking in Jamaica, under the US-Jamaica Child Protection Compact (CPC) Partnership.
Speaking at the opening recently, Minister of Justice Delroy Chuck noted that many clients of the VSD are children. He cautioned that many children who have been abused need to be assisted, or they could become “prime targets” for further exploitation and “candidates for the many gangs that operate, especially in our inner-city communities”.
Chuck said that while some may not have experienced crime in the way they have been treated in their homes, they have faced situations that make them very disoriented and so lack interest in things for their development.
“Many of them just need counselling to be able to get back on the right path, and there must be services for these youngsters. That is why in every parish we have a victim service office,” the minister told the audience.
Meanwhile, US Ambassador to Jamaica N. Nick Perry said the centre will be worthwhile for children who have experienced trauma, hailing the availability of staff which had been trained by the Warnath Group.
“Here, children from across the parish who are victims, or witnesses to crimes, including human trafficking, will find safety, comfort and support as they access the services that they need and seek,” the ambassador said.Under a four-year plan to build on and strengthen Jamaica’s existing efforts in the identification and provision of comprehensive trauma-informed care, prosecution and conviction, as well as prevention of child trafficking in all its forms, in 2018, the United States and Jamaica signed an agreement with the Warnath Group.
The Warnath Group is a boutique global advisory firm which offers training and advisory services on human trafficking, viewed as modern slavery and forced labour; international women’s economic empowerment; and emerging human rights and rule-of-law issues, its website notes.
The agreement itself seeks to build the capacity of Jamaican law enforcement and victim service providers to increase the level of victim-centred care that is appropriate and tailored to the needs of the victims.A child-friendly centre, or space, is an environment designed to help children who are victims of crime to feel safe, calm, and comfortable while interacting with professionals, including law-enforcement officers, social workers, healthcare professionals and prosecutors.