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‘Rise in child abuse during holidays’; parents urged to be alert Loop Jamaica

Officials from the Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse (CISOCA) have renewed calls for parents and guardians to be careful when choosing caregivers for their children.

CISOCA in a release said with many children at home because of the summer holidays, local authorities usually witness a surge in incidents of abuse because children, left under the care of neighbors or family members, often fall prey to these custodians.

Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Maldria Jones-Williams, the head of CISOCA said the advent of technology further compounds the worrying trend, with unsupervised screen time exposing children to online predators.

The senior policewoman said in light of these concerns law enforcers were encouraging parents to be alert and also careful when choosing caregivers for their children.

SSP Jones-Williams also fervently advocates for open dialogue between parents and their children about the repercussions of indiscriminate sexual encounters, such as unexpected pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections, and the emotional trauma associated with these experiences.

A release from the police high command stated that for over three decades CISOCA has served as a beacon of hope in Jamaica, diligently combating sexual crimes and child abuse.

Established in 1989 within the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), CISOCA has honed its specialized approach, fostering a more compassionate and confidential environment for victims.

“CISOCA is not just an investigative unit; it is a sanctuary for survivors, irrespective of their gender or social status” said SSP Jones-Williams.

“The centre embodies this philosophy through its well-equipped facilities, including a dedicated medical office, professional counsellors, and a mobile unit to facilitate reports for individuals unable or uncomfortable to visit the head office located at Ruthven Road in St. Andrew.

This ‘one-stop-shop’ approach is crucial to improving service delivery,” the release stated.

According to SSP Jones-Williams, abuse is not confined to specific demographics. “Children are

[potentially more] vulnerable,” emphasizes Jones-Williams.

Though CISOCA consistently achieves a clear-up rate of up to 70 percent for sexual abuse-related cases, the CISOCA boss says the unit’s mission extends beyond prosecution and highlights the team’s commitment to nationwide education.

“Each week we are out in the field, engaging in outreach programs at churches, schools, and community groups. Our mission transcends our office spaces,” she says.