The government is moving to address an increase in incidents of physical abuse against children with the roll out of a mix of intervention programmes.
Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Senator Ruel Reid, in a statement in the Senate on Friday, said the National Parenting Support Commission will be rolling out a campaign focused on the issue of abuse, beginning with a public service announcement to be aired early this week.
On December 1, the NPSC will launch its parenting education programme in Region 4, which comprises Westmoreland, Hanover, and St James.
The education minister said this was in addition to parenting education interventions that are being rolled out in other regions.
Reid’s statement to the Senate comes against the background of recent debate on corporal punishment arising out of videos posted on social media, which showed children being brutally beaten as a form of discipline.
He said he was “deeply moved” by the videos, which represented “the negative manifestation of the breakdown in the family”.
The education minister, who also has responsibility for the youth portfolio, said the society cannot condone acts of violence meted out against children in the name of discipline whether at home, school or the wider society.
“We cannot continue to grow our children this way and expect them to be emotionally well adjusted teenagers growing into mature adults,” he argued.
Highlighting the gravity of the matter, Reid cited statistics from the Office of the Children’s Registry, which show increased reports of physical abuse linked to corporal punishments.
A total of 3, 214 physical abuse reports were received in 2014 while 3,639 reports were received in 2015.
In addition, the Investigation Unit of the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA) indicated that close to 2,000 of the matters investigated up to October 2017, were related to physical abuse.
“There is clear need for us to understand the factors that have driven and influenced parents to plan or not plan for their families’ lives. We cannot ignore the clear signs of danger. We must at this time effect critical interventions to change current and future parental practices for Jamaica,” he said.