Childrens' Fusion - "Run From Trouble"

Children’s Fusion held Friday May 29, 2015 is a symposium in commemoration of Child’s Month embracing the National theme “Children’s Safety & Security-Our Priority”.

This social intervention was geared towards empowering and educating our parents and youth on various topics such as: Aggressive & Violent Behavior, Petty Larceny, Bleaching, Inappropriate Sexual Conduct, Sexual Exploitation, Sex & Sexuality, Child Labour, Human Trafficking and Sexual Harassment in the School Environment.

Activities included booth displays and presentations from Office of the Children’s Advocate, Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse, Office of the Children’s Registry, Victim Services Division, Southern Regional Health Authority and Trans National Crime. The programme was ably moderated by Ms. Tiekena McKoy, Most Congenial 2014 Manchester Festival Queen Contestant.

Detective Corporal Dwight Morgan from the Narcotics Division spoke extensively on “Personal Safety/General Safety Tips”. He encouraged the students to walk in groups to prevent abduction and/ kidnapping he also gave them safety tips in the event of an attempted attack/kidnapping to reach for their pencil and use with force on victim(s) in sensitive areas.

He continued by encouraging the students to take transportation that are properly marked as public passenger vehicle or those that they are familiar with. If uncertain or suspicious about the vehicle/taxi, the students were advised to take pictures of license plate number and or the driver and forward to a friend or family. He reminded them that they should protect their personal items e.g. phones laptops and other gadgets and avoid public display of same so as to mitigate any attempt by unscrupulous persons to steal them.

He cautioned the students about human trafficking and the tactics (massage parlor or beauty parlor are a few of the adverts used) people are using currently to lure them into abduction. He concluded by encouraging students to be vigilant when handling money especially at the ATM machines or when paying bills.

Miss Nicole Hayles, Manager of Public Education and Special Projects in the office of the Office of the Children’s Advocate presented on Aggressive and Violent Behavior. She spoke about children in conflict with the law a made reference to A Study on the Profile of Children in Conflict with the Law in Jamaica. She reported that the results of the study reflect a triangulation of sources and methods for the most authentic profile of children in conflict with the law. While the modal age of the children in conflict with the law (CCL) was 16 years, it is noteworthy that the modal age at the time of the offence or alleged offence was 15 years of age.

Commonly, the children reported having spent weeks, months or years in custody given frequent remands of their cases or lengthy correctional orders (until age 18). Based on the study, she reports that there appeared to be very little difference between those “in need of care and protection” and those “in conflict with the law” in terms of family background. She continued her presentation by mentioning that there are a number of factors that predisposes children to being in conflict with the law. Of the children interviewed, 29 percent (60) reported having a co -offender. 55 (26.4%) said that they were alone. From the study she reports that for the most part, the time of day that the offences occurred is indicating the time when children are usually unsupervised.

Of special note are the following: Noon to 6:00 p.m. was the modal (30%) block of time during which a child seemed likely to come into conflict with the law. When asked how the child came to break the law, the narratives were primarily about the influence of peers and being idle, followed by some retributive act. The students were very attentive and alarmed at the findings in the study that relates to children within their age cohort.

Mr. Bowen from CISOCA ended the morning segment with a presentation on Sexual Offences against Children & Child Abuse. He informed the students that Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse (CISOCA) is a branch of the Jamaica Constabulary Force with its objectives being: to create an atmosphere which will encourage victims to report incidents of sexual offences and child abuse; to ensure efficient and effective investigation into allegations of abuse; to enhance the rehabilitation of victims through counselling and therapy and to conduct public education programmes on Sexual Offences and Child Abuse. With this said he encouraged the students to reports cases known to them of incidents of sexual abuse for that due process can be followed through CISOCA.

NickRoy Neish a YIC volunteer reports that the symposium was very empowering as he gained access to information that he would not readily identify because they are in “fine print”. He engaged Miss Hayles at the OCA ’s information booth where he learnt about the operations of OCA and was informed that there are confidential ways to report instances of child abuse. This has now given him the confidence to report incident of child abuse/neglect. He concluded by commending CISOCA for the work being done in providing counseling and referral for children who have been victim to Sexual/Child Abuse.

The Manchester Youth Information Centre implores everyone to join the campaign in making our nation ’s youth ’s safety and security a priority. 

- Karone Hyman