Children exposed to violence prone to mental health issues, says agency

Children exposed to violence prone to mental health issues, says agency

Observer staff reporter

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

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MONTEGO BAY, St James — The Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA) has revealed that more and more Jamaican children are being confronted with violence from a tender age, making them prone to abuse and mental health predicaments.

According to Rosalee Gage-Grey, chief executive officer of CPFSA, after witnessing either their mother or father being murdered, it becomes a slippery slope for children who lose their chance of being raised by their parents.

“These children, in many cases, become a child of the State; having no legal guardian to provide the quality care and protection which they are entitled to,” Gage-Grey noted.

“It is proven, that there is also the possibility of children who witness murders to develop mental health issues based on the traumatic experience,” she said.

Gage-Grey added that the fact that more than 6,000 people murdered over the past three years were parents, gives an insight of how the children they leave behind are traumatised.

“Dr Nadine Burke Harris, an American paediatrician with Jamaican parentage has made the point that childhood trauma can have long-lasting negative mental effects,” Gage-Grey explained.

“Dr Harris has also linked adverse childhood experiences and toxic stress with harmful effects to health later on in life (chronic illnesses such as diabetes and cancer),” she continued.

Gage-Grey was the keynote speaker at the launch of the Montego Bay-based Sarah’s Children — an advocacy group for abused children and the elderly — at the Hilton Rose Hall Resort & Spa in St James last Thursday to commemorate International Women’s Day.

Gage-Grey added that Sarah’s Children Group is fully endorsed by the CPFSA, and “we are extremely appreciative of the opportunity to share with you our common objective”.

“It is even an opportune time for us as we celebrate International Women’s Day, where many of our women share stories of how they have risen from varying circumstances and are now some of the world’s most achieved,” she pointed out.

The new charity organisation has been established with the aim of protecting children and the elderly in Jamaica.

The organisation will work closely with the Child Protection and Family Services Agency in relation to preventing child abuse, providing vital services and referral for abused children, and making life more comfortable for the elderly, especially those who are disabled.

Sarah’s Children, led by journalist and community activist, Janet Silvera, was started in honour of her mother, Sarah Darling-Findlay, who expressed delight that such a tribute was bestowed while still alive.