YOUTH and Culture Minister Lisa Hanna says appropriate action will be taken against human rights lobby group Jamaicans For Justice (JFJ) and the six children’s homes where children were exposed to controversial sexual content.
In a release to the media yesterday, following receipt of the Child Development Agency (CDA) report on the controversial sex education programnme, Hanna said she was particularly upset that JFJ did not advise the CDA about the ‘Realising Sexual and Reproductive Health Responsibly’ programme — the title given to the JFJ’s pilot intervention in children’s homes — and that the programme represented possible breaches of the Child Care and Protection Act and the Offences Against The Person Act.
Hanna, meanwhile, questioned why the homes did not advise the CDA about the programme, although they were visited by the agency’s monitoring officers.
“A review of the content of the material found that parts of the training material were inappropriate for the age cohort and a departure from that approved by the Ministry of Education for use in public schools. Legal advice will have to be sought to determine if its presentation contravened any existing laws [as] information gleaned from the focus groups sessions in the homes confirmed that the training material was delivered,” the minister said.
The offensive material was imparted to children at:
* Alpha Boys’ Home;
* St John Bosco;
* Jamaica National Children’s Home;
* Sunbeam Children’s Home for Boys;
* Elsie Bemand Home for Girls; and
* Best Care Foundation.
“The administrators of the facilities gave approval to the JFJ for the implementation of the sexual education programme through MOUs. It was confirmed that the six homes each received a monetary contribution from the JFJ for use of their premises for the training,” Hanna said.
Each home received at least $10,000 from JFJ, the CDA’s investigation found.
“The operators of the six homes, by sanctioning and giving approval for the training, breached Regulation 15 (1) and 15 (2) of the Child Care and Protection (Children’s Home) Regulations, in not seeking approval from the minister,” Hanna said, in response to the CDA report.
Some 135 children in the six child-care facilities participated in the programme, according to the CDA. The majority of the children who participated in the programme were under the age of 16, including an 11-year-old, a 12-year-old, and 10 children who were age 13.
“I was taught that anal sex is not healthy for the body, but if one wants to have anal sex it is his rights and no one should try to hurt that individual,” the CDA report quoted one of the children interviewed. Another child related that “I was taught that someone can get infection in the mouth from oral sex”.
Another related that they were not influenced to do anal or oral sex but “it is a choice”. Also, another related that he learned that there are individuals who are homosexual, heterosexual and bisexual.
Hanna said yesterday that a team of social workers was dispatched to offer counselling to the children and was mandated to determine if any psychological or traumatic fallout occurred due to the sex education programme.
The minister said, too, that a further review of any impact on the children will be assessed when the social workers produce a report of their findings and a decision will be made to determine whether extensive counselling will be needed to reverse any negative impact on the affected children.