Sexual and other forms of abuse continue to affect children across the island.

According to Jamaica AIDS Support for Life (JASL) approximately six children are being raped per day in Jamaica.

Over the last eight years 2007 to 2014, approximately 16,790 reports were recorded by the Office of the Children’s Registry (OCR). These incidences increase the risk for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).

According to the Executive Director of the Jamaica AIDS Support for Life, Kandasi Levermore, “As we celebrate the importance of the growth and development our children this Child’s Month, let’s also remember to place their safety and security front and centre.”

Data from the Ministry of Health shows that youth are significantly affected by HIV. Girls, however, account for the larger percentage of cases in the 10 – 29 age range.

In the age group 15 – 19 years, four times more girls have reported cases of AIDS than boys. In many of the reported cases, young persons are forced into sex, therefore resulting in various health issues.

In a recent report made to JASL, one 14-year-old girl was sexually assaulted by three men. Upon further investigations, it was discovered that the young girl was homeless after her mother kicked her out because she did not believe her daughter’s accusation that her father raped and physically assaulted her. The matter was reported to the relevant authorities.

JASL launched its End Violence Against Women & Girls’ media campaign to raise awareness about the effect of violence on the spread of HIV nationally.

The campaign hopes to stem the prevailing attitudes and behaviours in the Jamaican society that condone violence against girls.

“We all need to develop a mind-set of zero tolerance to all kinds of abuse, but especially when it involves our children. Everyone has a role to play and a duty to report any act of violence involving a child,” Levermore added.