Young Jamaicans respond to domestic abuse in COVID-19

U-Report recently polled young Jamaicans about fears of a potential increase in domestic abuse due to stay-at-home conditions during COVID-19

Ross Sheil
Spotlight Initiative poll being completed by a U-Reporter in WhatsApp.
UNICEF Jamaica/2020
03 June 2020

U-Report recently polled young Jamaicans on their views about fears of a potential increase in domestic abuse due to stay-at-home conditions during COVID-19, and to ask their advice to inform a project for the Spotlight Initiative – a partnership between the United Nations, the European Union and the Government of Jamaica to reduce family violence.

You can view graphs of the results on the U-Report website. As always we are so grateful for the willingness of U-Reporters to contribute, and what follows are some of the suggestions we received in response to the final question: What ways can parents become more patient and so less abusive towards their children?

Female U-Reporter, Trelawny, age 27:

Because of covid 19 I am unable to provide for myself and children and that makes me irritable. I don’t hit my kids but I find that I shout at them a lot more and I am ashamed of that. Just want to put something in place to better provide for my kids and myself. Not easy when you are not sure where your next meal is coming from.

Male U-Reporter, Kingston, age 23:

Break the curse by eliminating the causes. Such as parents who themselves were victim of abuse. And implementing measures to prevent further duplication of abuse. Cause it can become a virus like this current epidemic if the treatments and impacts are not tackled swiftly enough. Rather than awaiting death or injury.

Female U-Reporter, Kingston, age 21:

Stop making beatings an option especially the first option of discipline or correction. It does not help, and it has been proven, especially in inner cities, it only makes matters worse, because children lack socially acceptable behaviours and are less likely to understand how to deal with social disagreements outside of war-like tendencies–replicating what they had been taught, beat first, ask questions later.

Female U-Reporter, St Catherine, age 26:

That one is hard especially if they were raised to believe abuse is okay and seeing as children are home and some of these parents are not getting an income at this time, it’s increased stress. When y’all figure out a way, let them know.

Male U-Reporter, St Ann, age unknown:

The children only present themselves in a manner they have learnt mostly from home or outside, don’t be too hard on them and look into yourselves and see if such manner of behaviour is in you. It is not right, correcting someone else for the things you yourself are doing.

Female U-Reporter, St James, age 19:

Many parents were abused themselves and need therapy but most will never seek it and they truly believe they aren’t doing anything wrong; normalize reporting.

Female U-Reporter, Saint Catherine, age 25:

Remember kiddos are struggling too. Their world has changed and they dont know how to deal with it. Manage your own stress so you can help them manage theirs.

Female U-Reporter, Saint James, age 23:

Learning to listen with understanding. Create a safe space for kids to be open and heard. Never second guess your child…. be patient and know the same energy, respect, honesty and love you put into that child it’s the same you’ll get in return.

Female U-Reporter, Saint Catherine, age 25:

1. When you are feeling upset just take a deep breath.

2. Give the kids things to do to occupy their time.

3. Listen to your child, this can help them to listen to you.

4. Play with your kids. Sometimes they just need a fun moment with their parents.

5. Talk to them let them know that you have feelings too.

6. Love and respect your child.

Female U-Reporter, Clarendon, age 22:

I believe that abuse will never cease as parents tend to put all their broken dreams and stress and channel it to hit their child.

Male U-Reporter, Westmoreland, age 24:

Just believe in your children’s ability and motivate them in the best way possible but you have to start with you.

Coming soon

We’ll be polling high school age U-Reporters on behalf of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, asking for their views and experiences on distance learning since schools closed. Also look out for an updated COVID-19 information bot to give U-Reporters updated information on the virus compiled by UNICEF, the World Health Organisation and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

How to join

U-Report is anonymous and asks just three questions to join: age, gender and parish. We operate on WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger; and thanks to FLOW customers on their network without data can send and receive texts with U-Report for free. Message the word JOIN to 876-838-4897 on WhatsApp or SMS; or open a conversation with @ureportjamaica on Facebook Messenger.

About this blog

UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across more than 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.

Follow UNICEF on TwitterFacebook, Instagram and YouTube

Explore our blog topics: