Minister of Justice, Delroy Chuck (left), in discussion with the United States (US) Ambassador to Jamaica, His Excellency N. Nick Perry, at the opening of a child-friendly centre at the Ministry of Justice Victim Support Division (VSD) in Port Antonio, Portland, recently.
Youngsters in the parish of Portland who are victims of crimes and other abuse, now have a child-friendly centre where they can get counselling and other support services.
The facility, which is located at the Ministry of Justice’s Victim Support Division (VSD), Portland office, at Shops 8 and 9, Bryan’s Bay Plaza, Port Antonio, was made possible through a US$6.7-million donation by the United States (US) to help fight child trafficking in Jamaica, under the US-Jamaica Child Protection Compact (CPC) Partnership.
Speaking at the recent opening of the centre, Minister of Justice, Delroy Chuck, said many children who have been abused need to be assisted or they will become “prime targets” for further exploitation and “candidates for the many gangs that operate, especially in our inner-city communities”.
Noting that many clients of the VSD are children, Minister Chuck said while some may not have experienced crime in the way they have been treated, in their homes they have faced situations that make them very disoriented and lack interest in things for their development.
“Many of them just need counselling to be able to get back on the right path, and there must be services for these youngsters. That is why in every parish we have a victim service office,” the Minister told the audience.
Meanwhile, US Ambassador to Jamaica, His Excellency N. Nick Perry, said the centre will be worthwhile for children who have experienced trauma, as the dedicated staff at the VSD, who have received specialised training from the Warnath Group, will be able to serve their needs.
“Here, children from across the parish who are victims, or witnesses to crimes, including human trafficking, will find safety, comfort and support as they access the services that they need and seek,” the Ambassador said.
Under a four-year plan to build on and strengthen Jamaica’s existing efforts in the identification, provision of comprehensive trauma-informed care, prosecution and conviction, as well as prevention of child trafficking in all its forms, in 2018, the United States and Jamaica signed an agreement, along with the Warnath Group.
This agreement seeks to build the capacity of Jamaican law enforcement and victim service providers to increase the level of victim-centred care that is appropriate and tailored to the needs of the victims.
A child-friendly centre or space is an environment designed to help children who are victims of crime to feel safe, calm, and comfortable while interacting with professionals, including law-enforcement officers, social workers, healthcare professionals and prosecutors.