Jamaica Observer / KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) — The Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport is to develop a policy and regulatory framework for safeguarding children in sport. This was disclosed by Portfolio Minister Olivia Grange in a message read by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Denzil Thorpe, at the fourth annual International Safeguarding Children’s Conference held on Friday at the Jamaica Conference Centre, Downtown, Kingston.

Grange noted that a study commissioned by the ministry has revealed, that cultural perceptions of toughness helps to fuel and excuse some of the abuse that children in sport undergo.

“One of the conclusions of the study is that there is in our society widespread ignorance about what constitute abuse. It gives us a scope of the problem and the huge challenge that we must overcome, but it also brings into focus the importance of the work that we must do,” she stated.

Grange said the ministry is moving quickly to strengthen the mechanisms to ensure that children in sport are not harmed in any way, and that they are able to enjoy sports and make participation in sporting activity a way of life.

She also informed that a task force has been established for the safeguarding and protection of children in sport, noting that it is made up of key stakeholders from a wide range of Government Ministries, departments and agencies, as well as non-government organisations.

“Their job is to ensure that we all collaborate and implement best practices for safeguarding children in sport at the national and local levels through government agencies, sport federations, associations and schools. The taskforce has also been mandated to monitor and evaluate policies relative to the safeguarding of children,” Grange stated.

Noting that government action is vital to safeguarding children in sport, Grange said the proposed policy and regulatory framework, are “very much needed.”

“Success will be dependent on our people taking a stand and using the mechanisms that exist now and that we will put in place to deal with the problem. It is one thing for us to have harsh penalties for those who exploit their privileged positions with children in sport and the arts, but to punish the perpetrators, we need convictions and that requires people being vigilant and speaking up when they see something going wrong,” she pointed out.

The International Safeguarding Children’s Conference was hosted by United Kingdom (UK)-based Company, One Step Forward Consultancy, in collaboration with Youth Organization Undertaking National Growth (YOUNG, UK /JA) and endorsed by the British High Commission. It was held from May 17-18 under the theme ‘Let’s Build the Legacy, Your Legacy is Every Life You Touch’. Among the topics discussed included safeguarding children in health, education, training and development.

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