The Office of the Children's Registry (OCR) has selected nine children who will serve as OCR Child Ambassadors and aid in its child-abuse public-education campaign. The child ambassadors were appointed by Minister of Youth and Culture Lisa Hanna, at the Spanish Court Hotel, St Andrew.
Six regional child ambassadors were selected from a group of applicants for the Child Ambassadors' Programme, which was launched in May 2012. In addition, three other children, who have worked with the OCR and demonstrated a high level of interest and commitment were also appointed as associate child ambassadors. All nine child ambassadors will volunteer with the OCR for a minimum of one year and help to promote the reporting of child abuse.
In her keynote address at the awards ceremony, Minister Hanna congratulated the OCR team on the stellar work in introducing this programme aimed at promoting child participation. In reference to the Child Care and Protection Act (CCPA), Minister Hanna stated that "children are capable of forming their own views and that the weight given to these views is one of the factors used to determine whether a child's best interest is being served". She noted that the Ministry of Youth and Culture and the OCR are committed to serving the best interests of children, and the OCR's Child Participation Programmes will ensure that "the experiences, situations and knowledge of the child ambassadors are taken into consideration when forming policy directions".
Minister Hanna also congratulated the children on their achievement and pointed out that their decision to participate was "an indication of their commitment to protecting the interests of their peers, who may be suffering in silence".
Children's Registrar Greig Smith expressed satisfaction with his staff and the work they have put into the initiatives and noted that this was a major step in the OCR's continued efforts to promote child participation.
The Child Ambassadors Programme was one of two child-participation initiatives launched by the OCR as part of its fifth anniversary activities in 2012, with the other initiative being a jingle competition. Due to the superior quality of the entries submitted by the applicants, two winning jingles were selected and eight other finalists received commendations. The two winning jingles will be integrated in the OCR's public-education campaign. Both programmes targeted children between ages 10 and 17 and are aimed at getting more children involved in the fight against child abuse. More than 100 applications were received for both programmes.
The OCR is a statutory body under the Ministry of Youth and Culture and was established in January 2007 under the CCPA, with the responsibility for receiving reports of child abuse and recording, assessing and referring them to the Child Development Agency, the Office of the Children's Advocate and the Centre for Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse for investigation and action. Since its inception, the OCR has been playing a crucial role in recording incidents of child abuse and has received over 33,000 reports of child abuse, with more than 8,500 reports received in 2012 alone.
The nine OCR Child Ambassadors proudly display their instruments of appointment as they pose with Minister of Youth and Culture Lisa Hanna and Registrar of the OCR, Greig Smith.