Jamaica approves plan in response to violence against children

Dr. Grace McLean

KINGSTON, Jamaica, CMC – The Jamaica government has approved the National Plan of Action for an Integrated Response to Children and Violence (NPACV) in response to its commitment made to the Global Partnership to end violence against children.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, Dr. Grace McLean, said the plan to be implemented over a five-year period, has also been tabled in the Parliament.

She told the plenary session for the eighth Biennial Jamaica Diaspora Conference that the aim of the plan is to create and maintain a protective environment supportive of and responsive to the issues of violence, child abuse and maltreatment of children in Jamaica.

“What this means is that, for the first time, we have a comprehensive response, an inter-sectoral response to treating with violence against children,” she said.

The plan involves collaboration among several government ministries, agencies and departments, civil society groups and other stakeholders.

The core objective of the NPACV is to reduce the impact of violence against children through an integrated approach to prevention, control, intervention responses, monitoring and evaluation. This is to ensure that the rights of children are preserved, and that an environment is created to stimulate their positive growth and development into productive citizens of Jamaica.

The Diaspora Conference is being hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade under the theme ‘Jamaica and the Diaspora: Building Pathways for Sustainable Development’. It ends on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the government says it is lobbying the support of Jamaicans living overseas for the establishment of proposed Global Jamaica Diaspora and Global Jamaica Youth Councils.

Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister, Kamina Johnson Smith, said the concept for both proposals will be discussed at the ongoing Diaspora Conference.

Johnson Smith said the Global Jamaica Diaspora Council is intended to be an expanded and inclusive body with a wide membership of individuals “who hold Jamaica at the forefront of their voluntary efforts”.

She said that not only will the Council “ease the burden” placed on the Diaspora Advisory Board, “but it will allow for greater inclusivity of Jamaicans living afar in lands across the oceans” and is intended to have members from six regions not currently represented on the Board. These are Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe, and the Middle East.

“This way we ensure that in diasporic regions, which are real but are not as yet organised, they will have an opportunity to engage with us directly and to learn from colleagues who are more organised. This is how we [will] create the institutional framework to build out and expand our diaspora to the reach that we know we truly have,” Johnson Smith said, adding that efforts will also be made to ensure that wide-ranging sector interests are represented,

These include health; education; arts, sports and culture; faith-based institutions; citizen security; commerce, and development.

She said that this will ensure that persons with the breadth of expertise and experience in these areas are engaged and afforded the opportunity to make their contributions to Jamaica’s development.

Johnson Smith said the Global Jamaica Diaspora Youth Council is intended to create the framework for increased and sustainable connections between young Jamaicans living overseas and the island.

“We know that our young people are our future. We know, have known and have been saying for some time that it is important that young Jamaicans maintain a connection to our island, outside of just our food, language, music and culture.”

She told the meeting that a draft of the proposed National Diaspora Policy has been prepared and will be discussed at the conference before its submission to Cabinet for consideration and approval.

The policy will provide the framework for effective partnerships with Jamaicans living abroad.

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