New mobile messaging service to help parents launched
ParentText made available via UNICEF's U-Report social messaging service
KINGSTON, JUNE 17, 2022 – Jamaicans can now access useful information on parenting thanks to a newly-launched mobile messaging service ParentText, which is the latest initiative launched under the United Nations Spotlight Initiative funded by the European Union (EU).
ParentText Jamaica is an automated mobile messaging service for parents and caregivers of children from birth to age 17. It provides guidance in areas such as relationship building, positive reinforcement, addressing child abuse, child behaviour management and stress management via text messages, audio and video clips delivered via WhatsApp. Users can also complete self-assessments around the impact of ParentText on their parenting.
The programme was officially launched by UNICEF on Friday in partnership with the Government of Jamaica through the National Parent Support Commission (NPSC). ParentText was originally developed globally – by the University of Oxford, Parenting for Lifelong Health (PLH) and IDEMS International (Innovations in Development, Education and the Mathematical Sciences) with funding from the LEGO Foundation.
The messages were created and recorded with local parenting experts such as Owen “Blakka” Ellis and Glynis Salmon from Parenting Partners Caribbean (PPC). Users can complete self-assessments to assess the impact of ParentText on their parenting.
“Children need guidance and support from parents but parenting is not an easy job. It does not come with a manual. UNICEF recognizes that parents also need support, especially as we struggle to cope with the impacts of COVID-19 on our families. ParentText puts helpful information, tips, encouragement and motivation literally at parents’ fingertips, on their cell phones. Parents can watch, listen or read content that is specially tailored for the Jamaican reality,” UNICEF Jamaica Country Representative, Mariko Kagoshima explained.
Chief Executive Officer at the National Parent Support Commission, Kaysia Kerr applauded UNICEF Jamaica for working with both the Government and NGOs in the implementation of the project. Key local partners for the programme included PPC, the Women’s Centre of Jamaica Foundation, Children First and NPSC.
"This is the type of partnership which Jamaican parents need and which provides information that is accessible and culturally relevant to them." she said.
Saara Thakur, Global scale up lead from Oxford University’s Parenting for Lifelong Health welcomed Jamaica to the group of countries implementing the ParentText project.
“This project is part of a global parenting initiative aimed at reducing violence against children and gender-based violence while improving child development and learning outcomes. Our ultimate aim is to provide freely available, evidence-based playful parenting support to every parent, everywhere. We are delighted to be collaborating with UNICEF Jamaica on the launch and pilot of Parenting for Lifelong Health’s ParentText chatbot as we work together to build evidence of innovative strategies that expand the reach of parenting support through digital technology to those who need it the most,” she stated.
ParentText is available via WhatsApp by WhatsApping the word PARENT to 876-838-4897 (the number of U-Report, UNICEF’s social messaging service). Users receive daily positive parenting messages in the form of texts, audios, videos, comics, and gifs over an average of five to 12 weeks, depending on the frequency selected by parents. Caregivers can also attend a series of social media live events which will discuss child behaviour management, parent-child bonding and positive parenting.
ParentText Jamaica is the first of its kind in the Caribbean. The project is also being implemented in Malaysia and will also be implemented in Sri Lanka and the Philippines.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children in Jamaica, visit www.unicef.org/jamaica.