Children’s Advocate launches handbook on preventing sexual grooming
Despite Jamaica seeing a 20.4 per cent reduction in cases of rape reported to the police since the start of the year, Children’s Advocate Diahann Gordon Harrison remains dissatisfied.
On Tuesday, showing how concerned the trained attorney-at-law is, she and her team from the Office of the Children’s Advocate (OCA) launched a new publication titled How To Prevent Sexual Grooming: A Children’s Handbook and geared towards educating and sensitising children about some of the ways adults sexually groom children.
The launch took place at the AC Hotel in St Andrew
“We at the Office of the Children’s Advocate recognise that the sexual epidemic that has swept our nation for a long time needs a multifaceted approach if effective solutions are to be identified,” Gordon Harrison said.
“Last calendar year, for example, in 2022, the Office of the Children’s Advocate received 92 reports about instances that involved the sexual grooming of children,” she said.
Although the police division in St Ann accounted for the highest number cases of rape reported, with 25 from the start of the year up to August 26, Gordon Harrison is more concerned about “the complexion of the cases coming out of two particular districts in Trelawny” where incest was reported recently in the media.
“Although they focused on incest, when you look at the specificity of how those relationships began, there was a familiarisation of sexual content and exposure to the children who eventually became victims,” Gordon Harrison said.
“We cannot therefore have perpetrators have unabated access to children without children and their parents being made aware of some of the ways in which adults prey upon children. Innocence is being perverted daily, and we are creating more fractured individuals who can spend a lifetime trying to forget dastardly acts that were perpetrated against them during childhood,” she said.
TACKLING SEXUAL PROBLEMS
With regard to How To Prevent Sexual Grooming: A Children’s Handbook, Gordon Harrison said it will help them tackle problems in Jamaica associated with sexual grooming.
“This handbook that we seek to launch today presents a difficult topic in the most palatable way that we could compose it. Regrettably, because of persons with bad intent being a part of our society, we have no choice but to broach these discussions,” Gordon Harrison said.
“It is my hope, therefore, that the handbook will be used to guide those conversations and to disrupt the cloak of secrecy and manipulation under which perpetrators hide to abuse and exploit children,” she said.
In addition to the booklet, she reiterated that Jamaica has the legal framework with “the moral code of decency”.
Also, she reiterated that the offence of sexual grooming is a circuit court offence, which means it is not triable at the local parish court level, but at the Supreme Court level.
Persons, whether male or female, who are found guilty of sexual grooming, are liable to maximum term of imprisonment of 15 years.
For the first three-quarters of the year, between January 1 and August 26, there were 261 cases of rape reported and 328 cases of rape reported for the corresponding period in 2022.
Up to August 26, the police division in St Ann accounted for the highest number of cases of rape reported, with 25. This was followed by St Catherine South with 24 and St Andrew South with 20.