Children’s rights are very important to different stakeholders and organizations in Jamaica. Many have taken on the responsibility of ensuring these rights are respected and protected. However, there are still children whose rights are being violated.
Violence against children and ensuring their safety have been major issues in Jamaica. Articles 37 and 34 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) are being violated for many Jamaican children. In 2017, the Office of the Children’s Registry (OCR) reported that 8 out of 10 children aged two to fourteen in Jamaica experience some form of violent discipline. In addition to this, there has been little sign of decline in sexual offences against young girls.
The justice system and the state care system are also not ideal. Children within the state care system of Jamaica often are not given adequate psychological care. This is indicated by the low number of counsellors and trained professionals assigned. Children within the legal system are also at risk due to the inadequate attention placed on ensuring their rights are met. Children in both scenarios are very vulnerable due to their separation from their family and integration into a new environment.
Recently, the National Plan of Action for an Integrated Response to Children and Violence 2018- 2023 was launched. It aims to target children who are mistreated and others who mistreat them. The plan outlines ways to improve services available to children. It also includes plans to educate Jamaicans about violence and how to discipline children using non-violent methods.
The Child Protection and Family Services Agency of Jamaica (CPFSA) has also worked together with children in state care to ensure their needs are met. They have implemented the exiting state care transition program. This program supports children who were once in state care. It helps by allowing exiting children to pursue tertiary education or pursue their career goals while still being supported. This initiative allows children to not feel abandoned after they leave the system. Instead, it allows them to gradually transition into becoming their own person and becoming more independent.
Although Jamaican children are faced with unforgivable circumstances each and every day, strives are being made to reduce this. Organizations are using programs to help the children in whatever way they can. Stakeholders are also imploring citizens to treat our children better. It is not perfect, however, there has been some amount of progress made to ensure the rights of children are protected.
Caribbean Policy Research Institute, & Institute, C. (2018, June 01). Situation Analysis of Jamaican Children – 2018. Retrieved December 15, 2020, from https://www.unicef.org/jamaica/reports/situation-analysis-jamaican-children-2018
Jamaica, G. o. (2018, January). National Plan of Action for an Integrated Response to Children and Violence (NPACV) 2018-2023. Kingston, Jamaica. Retrieved December 15, 2020 from https://www.end-violence.org/sites/default/files/paragraphs/download/Action%20plan%20jamaica.pdf
OCR (Office of the Children’s Registry). (2017). Child Abuse Reports: Statistical Bulletin. www.ocr.gov.jm/index.php/download