Let’s Talk: Don’t Walk Programme
School Safety and Parenting Education
Promoting critical safety tips for children and families, and vital advice for parents and guardians has been a high priority for Hear The Children’s Cry since the establishment of our Missing Children’s Support Programme in 2009. Working on our own and partnering with other social welfare organizations, we take these workshops to schools, churches and community organizations in all of Jamaica’s 14 parishes. Parent Teacher Associations and Guidance Counsellors have offered invaluable assistance in scheduling the workshops, and we are grateful for their help, as we continue this important effort to keep our children safe and secure. We have sensitized an estimated 325,000 children in 92 schools, and 35,000 parents through our Islandwide Safety Workshops, and reached many more through Child Safety and Positive Parenting tips shared through our Social Media outreaches.
Runaway Prevention Programme
In a situation where most missing children in Jamaica are runaways, Hear The Children’s Cry launched the Runaway Prevention Programme in May 2018, using the theme, “Let’s Talk: Don’t Walk”. With support from Yello Media Group, sponsors of our Missing Children’s Support Programme, easy to read flyers were printed with life-saving advice for parents and children. These promote better communication, enhanced parent-child relations, and practical advice during times of crises. In addition to child safety, creating happier homes is an important objective.
Having partnered with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, members of the Diplomatic Corps, the National Parent Teachers Association of Jamaica, student leaders, and other stakeholders in the Child Welfare Sector, we continue to promote and distribute the flyers and related information, both physically and virtually.
Missing Children’s Family & Community Social Work Programme
Support from Supreme Ventures Limited enabled Hear The Children’s Cry to launch the Missing Children’s Family & Community Social Work Programme, designed to alleviate the problem of runaways and missing and exploited children. The support allowed us to expand our work under the Missing Children’s Support Programme, from telephone calls to families, to a much needed, more comprehensive programme. Initial priority focus was placed on families with habitual runaways, whose safety and interrupted education is of particular concern.
The Programme is designed to aid in addressing the vast investigational gap that exists regarding missing children in Jamaica, as well as to strengthen the areas of child protection and prevention. The Programme ensures that home and school visits are undertaken; that critical support services are provided for parents, and that the necessary action is taken for the rehabilitation and re-assimilation of our country’s formerly missing children into the educational and social fabric of the society.
The programme was launched in four of Jamaica’s 14 parishes – Kingston, St. Andrew, St. Catherine and St. Thomas.
National Youth Help Recycling Project (2010 – 2011)
Seed funding from the Bank of Nova Scotia Jamaica’s ‘Go Green Initiative’ facilitated the multi-faceted National Youth Help Recycling Project. Objectives included:
- Employment creation, educational and personal development for unattached young males from inner-city communities
- Protecting the environment by preventing potentially harmful materials to enter landfills
- Creating a sustainable recycling operation which could be replicated nationally and regionally, and could produce income for Hear The Children’s Cry.
The project, which involved a promising paper recycling operation, provided valuable training and employment for 15 inner city youth. An associated component facilitated an environmental education project, also focusing on environmental awareness and recycling, and a related competition among high schools.
Prevent A Dropout Pilot Programme – 2006 – 2007
The innovative Prevent A Dropout Programme, endorsed by the Ministry of Education and sponsored by RBTT Bank, was successfully designed and piloted by Hear The Children’s Cry. Implemented at Swallowfield Primary and Junior High School from 2006 to 2007, it targeted 60 grade 8 and 9 students whom the school deemed highly likely to drop out of school, given their home life and school performance.
They were given remedial education, career guidance, life-skills training, individual mentoring by RBTT staffers, and with their families, parenting and family life education. Some required counseling, some could not read. Students were also given help with bus fares and food.
The results were considered a phenomenal success by the school, Against all odds, twenty-nine of the first year’s group of 30 and. all 30 of the second year’s group graduated.
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Tips For Parents
How to Try To Prevent Your Teenager From Running Away
- Regularly spend quality time with each of your teens. Listen to them attentively in a non-judgmental way. Praise appropriate behaviour.
- Take their concerns seriously. Do not dismiss their worries and fears.
- Pay attention when they ask you for help. Make your teen your priority.
- Confront trouble signs directly, firmly and calmly. Discuss your concerns and the consequences of continued unacceptable behaviour. Avoid lectures.
- Talk with others. Your teen’s friends, their parents or their teachers may have helpful suggestions.
- Speak with professional counsellors about your situation.
Signs Your Son or Daughter Is Thinking About Running Away From Home
- Changes in behaviour patterns
- Rebellious behaviour
- Disclosure of intention to run
- Accumulation of money and possessions
- Problems at home
What to do if Your Teenager Runs Away From Home
- Remain calm. Ask yourself why and where your child may have run. Check his/her room, desk and /or clothes for clues. Check local spots your child may frequent, as well as area hospitals and treatment centres if you suspect your child of drug use. Call your child’s employer or coworkers, if any.
- Contact your child’s friends and their parents, school, neighbours, relatives and others who may know where your child is. Ask them to call if they hear anything. If your child has a computer, check it for leads such as online contacts and details of a planned meeting.
- Call the police. Have an officer take the report at your home. Give him/her a recent photo of your child and a description of his/her clothes, including jacket, shoes and knapsack colours. Record the officer’s name, telephone, fax and report numbers. Ask who will follow up the initial investigation.
- Hear the Children’s Cry will produce posters of your child and upload it to their social media pages to alert the public. Make posters of your own and place them in store windows and hand them out at truck stops, youth-oriented businesses, hospitals, treatment centres and law enforcement agencies. Request permission first. Keep track of all posters and remove them once your child has returned.
- Keep a notebook by the phone. Record all information about the investigation, including all conversations and people you’ve spoken with.
What To Do When Your Teenager Returns Home
- Be happy. Many teens fear the initial meeting with their parents. Remain calm. Express relief and tell your child you love him/her and that together you will solve any problems.
- Make follow-up phone calls. Let all your contacts, including the police, know your child has returned home. Police may need to speak or meet with your child.
- Allow time to settle in. Your child may need a shower, a meal, clean clothes, or sleep.
- Get medical attention. Visit your family doctor to address any medical concerns.
- Talk with your teen. Discuss how you can work together to prevent him/her from leaving again. Acknowledge some problems take time and effort to solve. Be sure you resolve the problems safely and reasonably.
- Look for assistance. Hear the Children’s cry can help counsel your family.
- Improve communication and the quality of your relationship with your teen so that running away ceases to be an option.