Campbell, Gleaner Writer
SPARE THE rod and spoil the child, so the adage goes. But in
Jamaica, many parents and guardians still wield the strap, and
fists, to get their children in line.
Rose Robinson-Hall, a social worker, is project coordinator with
the CAMP (Child Abuse Mitigation Project) Bustamante which is based
at the Bustamante Children's Hospital in St. Andrew. It was launched
in January 2004 to help address an increase in child neglect.
Children, from age one to 12, are treated at CAMP Bustamante.
Mrs. Robinson-Hall told Outlook that it is difficult to
gauge the level of child abuse in Jamaica. She said, however, that
there has been a steady number of cases coming in to CAMP Bustamante
since it opened its doors three years ago.
"On average, we receive about 25 cases of violence-related
injuries every month, and most of those injuries are intentional,"
she said. "Forty-nine per cent of those injuries were inflicted at
According to CAMP Bustamante data, 90 per cent of reported
physical abuse result from children being punished by parents, or
from adults known to the children. Roughly 28 per cent of the
injuries, Mrs. Robinson-Hall said, were facial, to the head or neck.
She noted that several parents believe in laying down the rules
the old-fashioned way.
"In some of the cases, parents administer corporal punishment as
a way of helping children to learn ... You either beat badness out
of a child or you beat good sense into a child," she explained.
"They think it's a way of shaping children."
At CAMP Bustamante, a social worker and a clinical psychologist
help monitor the progress of abusive parents and their abused
children. At the Child Guidance Clinic, also located at the
hospital's compound, the patient's mental health is evaluated; if
analysed as unstable, therapy is recommended.
Mrs. Robinson-Hall said there is a positive amid the many cases
of abuse. Many parents accompany their children to counselling
"It's not unusual to see parents being very remorseful about
getting carried away about punishing the child," she said. "If it's
a crisis situation, we visit the home and do risk assessment to see
what are the risks to the child's safety."
Mrs. Robinson-Hall says repeat cases are rare at CAMP Bustamante
- a mere one per cent. She credits the home-based counselling