The new 24-hour child abuse reporting hotline 2-1-1 was launched virtually yesterday and is toll-free from any service provider.
It replaces the 888-PROTECT hotline.
It was organised through the collaborative effort of the Ministry of Youth and the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA).
“We appreciate the work that the 888-PROTECT [hotline] has done, but one of the challenges we’ve recognised is that it is sometimes challenging especially for younger children to remember how to dial it,” Minister of State in the Ministry of Youth Robert Morgan said during the launch.
Chief Executive Officer of the CPFSA, Rosalee Gage-Grey, said the organisation recognised that it could not rely on the numbers and methods used previously, and so it signalled the need for a dedicated three-digit emergency number from the Office of Utilities Regulation.
“The 211 [hotline] was received earlier this year and has been operated by the National Children’s Registry since June,” she commented.
Morgan, in the meantime, underscored the importance of children having “quick access” to a number they can use immediately after an incident of abuse, no matter what time of the day or night the incident happens.
“What we are seeking to do is interconnect what I call the ‘childcare ecosystem’ in Jamaica,” he disclosed, adding that all other hotlines from the various ministries should be reachable upon direction from a CPFSA officer, through the 2-1-1 hotline.
“We will also have a management system, which gives us the ability to know and measure how effective the hotline is,” he further noted.
The hotline will be operated by trained officers, who will ask key questions to determine what kind of abuse a child is facing, the level of urgency, and which entity is best suited to investigate the report.
Along with the CPFSA investigation unit, the Office of the Children’s Advocate and several units of the Jamaica Constabulary Force will have access to investigate reports issued. Notably, all reports are confidential.
Minister of Youth Fayval Williams, during the launch of the hotline, stated that the ministry will continue to work alongside the CPFSA to help protect the nation’s children.
“This is the kind of service that we wish we did not need but, regrettably, child abuse across social strata is a very present danger in Jamaica. We need to employ all the necessary resources to protect our children to see to the reduction of these cases in Jamaica,” she further said.
Data from the CPFSA show that, since the start of this year, there have been 600 reports of emotional abuse, 1,203 reports of sexual abuse, 1,465 reports of child physical abuse, and 2,528 reports of child neglect on the island.
All updates and information about the hotline will be made available on the CPFSA Facebook, Instagram and Twitter media pages, @CPSFAJM.
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