Safety and justice

Protecting children from all forms of violence

UNICEF Jamaica/Allison Brown

Challenges

Preventing and reducing all forms of violence against children is a major priority for us.

The well-being of Jamaica’s children is severely undermined by the unacceptably high levels of violence that they experience, especially in spaces where they should feel safe.

Eight in 10 Jamaican children are regularly subjected to violent discipline methods at home, which includes psychological or physical violence. About 65% of students are bullied at school and close to 80% witness violence in their community or at home. Prevailing social norms, cultural practices and the normalisation of violence contribute to some of this violence, including domestic violence and violent discipline – which is only outlawed in early childhood institutions and residential childcare facilities.

Solutions

Our Safety and Justice programme has three goals which aim to better prevent, treat and respond to violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect:

  1. Increase the country’s capacity to promote and ensure justice, and to improve systems that enable prevention and treatment.
  2. Strengthen political commitment and accountability to legislate and budget for the improvement of prevention and response interventions.
  3. Increase the capacity of children (rights holders) and duty bearers (persons who must fulfil these rights) to foster positive practices and norms that protect children.  

 

We work with various partners on different strategies to achieve these goals. Examples include: 

Photograph of a a girl standing in front of a fence watching older girls play a volleyball match at the UNICEF-supported Marillac Hills Centre in the city of Muntinlupa, in Metro Manila, Philippines.

Justice System

Training of professionals and staff who work with and for children throughout the justice system – including judges, prosecutors, police and other law enforcement officers – on how to treat children who come into contact or conflict with the law in sensitive ways that respect their dignity and protect their rights.

Photograph of Joel Campbell from Fight for Peace photographed in his community of Trench Town in Kingston.

Violence Interruption

Use of violence interruption as a homicide reduction strategy in highly volatile communities. Violence interrupters – who are trained and trusted community residents – identify early warning signs and intervene before violence occurs or escalates. They also mediate conflicts and prevent reprisal murders. The violence interruption programme also targets at-risk youth, directing them away from gangs and providing counselling, career and life-skills training and employment opportunities.

Photograph of Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) Sergeant Janet Williams-Richards at work at Grants Pen Police Station in St Andrew.

Legal and Policy Reform

Advocacy for the review and reform of child-related laws and policies to ensure they are aligned with the Convention on the Rights of the Child and offer the best protection for children. This includes the collection and use of relevant data and research to make well-informed, evidence-based decisions.

Photograph of children playing cricket

Safeguarding in sport

Policy development to protect student athletes from abuse, exploitation and violence in all sporting arenas. Partner: Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport

We also support the Government of Jamaica as a Pathfinder country under the Global Partnership to End Violence against Children. Pathfinder countries have agreed to accelerate actions to prevent and reduce violence against children.

Our implementing partners 2017-2021

 

Child Protection and Family Services Agency 
Partner type: Government
The CPFSA leads Jamaica’s child protection system and works to promote child-friendly policies and programmes to strengthen families.

Fight for Peace
Partner type: NGO
Fight for Peace uses combat sports and psychosocial support, brings together a network of community-based organisations and multi-sector stakeholders to collaborate on youth violence reduction programming in key hot spot communities. 

Jamaica Crime Observatory-Integrated Crime and Violence Information System 
Partner type: Government
The JCO-ICVIS collects data on seven crime and violence incidences (murder, shooting, sexual offences, robbery, fatal shootings, traffic fatalities and suicide).

Jamaicans for Justice
Partner Type: NGO
Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ) is a non-profit, non-partisan, non-violent citizens’ rights action organisation that advocates for good governance and improvements in state accountability and transparency.

Ministry of Justice
Partner Type: Government
The Ministry of Justice is the lead administrator of justice in Jamaica. It administers legislation; delivers justice services including child diversion; and provides policy support and analysis on justice issues.

National Parenting Support Commission
Partner type: Government
The NPSC assists parents in developing the skills they need to raise and protect their children and encourages a collaborative effort between home and school.

Office of the Children's Advocate
Partner Type: Government
The OCA is a Commission of Parliament mandated to enforce and protect the rights and best interests of children.  
Peace Management Initiative

Partner Type: NGO
The PMI uses alternative dispute resolution methodologies and violence interruption to treat community-based violence in Jamaica.