JA Education Minister visits South Florida to join fight against child abuse

Education Minister Ruel Reid

Newly appointed Jamaica Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Ruel Reid, takes the campaign for child abuse awareness to South Florida this Saturday, as scheduled keynote speaker for the PROTECT THEM Gala. Hosted by the local NUH GUH DEH campaign against child abuse in Jamaica and the Diaspora, Minister Reid will address the nation’s current efforts in protecting its children, and outline ways the Diaspora can contribute.

Child abuse prevention will be a critic issue under his tenure, says Minister Reid in an interview with National Weekly. “We are working with UNICEF [United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund] to train our teachers to spot abuse, as well as change how they relate to their students,” said Minister Reid. “We are also working on our parenting program to better equip our parents on how to handle discipline.”

But meaningful change will also require a cultural shift in discipline, says Minister Reid, particularly for children with behavioral conditions, as too often children with developmental challenges suffer abuse because parents and institutions are unable to manage.

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“We need to understand more as a society about childhood development,” says Minister Reid. “If children have biological challenges, schools and families need to recognize and accommodate children that need special support. They can’t be abused because they behave differently.”

The Minister is encouraging the Diaspora to contribute in any way they can to the Ministry’s new initiatives targeting these needs, from provide safe facilities for children escaping chronic abuse, to curriculum reform to help integrate students with behavioral conditions such as autism.

“The Diaspora can contribute by fundraising. Children in abusive environments need to be in safe homes, and homes and boarding institutions require extensive funding,” says Minister Reid. “The Diaspora can also help by speaking out. Write articles, post on social media. Make your voices be heard though your consulates. Collective influence can bring pressure on this issue.”

“We thought it ideal for Senator Reid to be invited to address this critical manner of preventing child abuse affecting children in Jamaica, the USA and elsewhere,” said the founder of the NUH GUH DEH campaign, Lavern Deer. “We are extremely pleased that even as the new administration in Jamaica grapples with the challenges of government, Senator Reid, who has three very critical portfolios coping with, has taken time out to attend the gala and join us in this very important struggle.”

Senator Reid who is also the principal of Jamaica College (JC), one of Jamaica’s oldest high schools, took leave from that institution to accept Prime Minister Andrew Holness’ invitation to join his Cabinet after the Jamaica Labor Party’s general election victory on February 25.

Referred to as the “reluctant politician” Senator Reid is generally regarded as an “outstanding educator” among Jamaica’s education circles, and has been targeted by previous administrations to serve under the education portfolio.

Kevin Turner of Miramar, who was a senior at Jamaica’s Munro College when Senator Reid began his teaching career there in 1996, describes the minister as “not only an A-class educator, but someone who take the positive development of youth very seriously. He’s ideal for addressing the need to protect young people from all forms of abuse.”

Senator Reid was conferred with the Jamaican Order of Distinction (Commander Class) in 2011, and formerly served as chairman of Jamaica’s National Council on Education, and chairman of the National Council on Technical and Vocational Education and Training.

Also at Saturday nights Gala, Florida State Representative, and Hazelle Rogers, and Angela Messam, wife of Miramar’s mayor Wayne Messam, will be honored with the PROTECT THEM Humanitarian Award. Both women are being honored for “their outstanding efforts in the community to educate, integrate and motivate via information-sharing, as well as their proven ability to make a difference in the lives of the people they’ve touched through their work and community involvement.”

The gala will take place on Saturday, April 23, starting 6 p.m. at the Carolina Golf Club in Margate.





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