Universal Children’s Day Message 2014
The United Nations' (UN) Universal Children's Day, which was established in 1954, is celebrated on November 20 each year to promote international togetherness and awareness among children worldwide. The significance of the day is amplified by the fact that it was on November 20, 1959 that the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child and on November 20, 1989, it adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Since 1990, Universal Children's Day also marks the anniversary of the date that the UN General Assembly adopted both the declaration and the convention on children's rights.
It is against this background that as Registrar of the Office of the Children’s Registry, OCR, I wish to reflect on the state of our nation’s children and encourage greater promotion and protection of the rights of all the children of Jamaica, the region and the world. It is befitting that an occasion such as Universal Children’s Day is celebrated in the month of November which is also commemorated locally as Youth Month, Parents’ Month and Community Month. It therefore sets the stage for all stakeholders: children, parents, communities, private and public sector organizations to collaborate in the partnership needed to ensure the holistic development, care and protection of the nation’s children.
Today also marks a significant day in our work and the lives of our children, as November 19 is World Day for Prevention of Child Abuse. Jamaica, like many other countries worldwide, has had a long tradition of silence on abuse, despite the fact that since the OCR was established on January 1, 2007 as the government agency responsible for receiving, recording, assessing and referring for investigation reports of child abuse, up to December 31, 2013 we have received a combined total of over forty-four thousand such reports. On the other hand, for the period January to December 2013, a total of 2205 children were reported missing, 1725 were recovered safely, 368 are still missing and 14 were found dead. In the meantime, preliminary data for the period January to June 2014 indicate that 984 children were reported missing, 614 were recovered safely, 368 are still missing and 2 were found dead.
The universal and alarming problems of child abuse and missing children warrant increased attention as well as efficient protection skills and prevention measures at the family, community, national and international levels and it must first begin with the awareness of and protection of the rights of the child. Together we can make a difference-one country, one people united for a positive change in the care and protection of children.
The rights of children fall under three categories: provision, protection and participation. These categories cover issues relating to the provision of food, clothing, shelter, education and healthcare; protection from all forms of abuse and exploitation, safe places to play and involvement in structured, creative activities such as clubs and societies in schools as well as community-based groups. So today on World Day for Prevention of Child Abuse and tomorrow on Universal Children’s Day 2014, it is my hope that these rights will not be infringed on today, tomorrow and beyond.
Our children are our most precious gifts and they deserve to be treated as such, regardless of their colour, class or creed.
As the OCR continues to carry out its mandate of providing “a professional and confidential system to encourage, receive, record, assess and refer for timely investigation and curative action, reports of known or suspected instances of child abuse and other threats to children” and managing “an effective national alert and response system for the safe return of missing children in the shortest possible time”, we give a commitment to the public. That commitment is that we “will be among the premier organizations worldwide performing in Jamaica, a valuable, proactive role as part of a team that is creating workable solutions to prevent, reduce and/or eliminate the incidence of child abuse and missing children. In so doing, we strive to be trusted and respected by the children and adult populations of Jamaica as a sensitive, professional, confidential and effective organization that is providing world class service in the creation of a safe and secure environment for children to grow and reach their full potential.”
Let us use the occasions of World Day for Prevention of Child Abuse and Universal Children’s Day to make a conscious decision to “Be the change: speak out, protect our children.”
A message from:
Mr. Greig Smith,
Registrar, Office of the Children’s Registry
- Stop The Abuse
- Ananda Alert
Ananda Alert System is Jamaica's Child Recovery Strategy which was modeled off the Amber Alert System in the United States of America (USA). According to the Ananda Alert Policy document (2008): "there has been a steady spate of child abductions that ultimately led to murder." The Constabulary Communication Network (CCN), reports that between January 1 and September 30, 2008, 737 children were reported missing (177 males and 560 females). 519 were returned, with over 200 still missing. Two murders have been confirmed, with one unconfirmed.
Listen to the Ananda Alert Jingle: