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Jamaicans told to report child abuse or face prosecution
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 2 June Montego Bay Jamaica: Persons who know of cases of child abuse, or of children being used to commit illegal acts, but fail to make a report to the relevant authority, can face criminal prosecution under the Child Care and Protection Act (CCPA).

"This is the first time that the law has made all of us our brothers' and sisters' keepers," said Senior Resident Magistrate Rosalee Toby, speaking at a recent seminar in Montego Bay.

"The fact is that each person here, if they suspect that a child is being abused, if they suspect that a child might be abused, if they suspect that a child is in need of care and protection, and they do not report it to the Child Development Agency - you can be charged and made to pay a fine of up to $500,000 and/or go to jail for six months."

The seminar, part of a series that the police, child services and the courts are collaborating on to educate the public on the year-old CCPA, was held at the St John's Methodist Church Hall in the city.

The magistrate, who works within the family court system, noted that children were being sent by adults to purchase liquor, cigarettes, and other substances, but said the act of sending the child to buy such items or having the child sell them, constituted an illegal act.

The adults involved, said Toby, can be jailed for using children for such activity. And businesses that sell to children under 18 - such as those that dispense liquor and cigarettes - or allow them to participate in any form of adult entertainment, can lose their licences.

Toby said it was important for all groups to have knowledge of the law, saying the education campaign needed to be extensive.

"More people need to know about it - all teachers, all guidance counsellors, all nurses, all people who run day care centres - they need to know about this," she stated.

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