New mobile messaging service to help parents launched | Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News | Loop News

Jamaicans can now access what the Ministry of Education is describing as “useful information” on parenting thanks to a newly-launched mobile messaging service ParentText.

It is the latest such service launched under the United Nations Spotlight Initiative funded by the European Union (EU).

ParentText Jamaica is an automated mobile messaging service for parents and caregivers of children from birth to age 17. It provides guidance in areas such as relationship building, positive reinforcement, addresses child abuse, child behaviour management and stress management via text messages, audio and video clips delivered via WhatsApp. Users can also complete self-assessments around the impact of ParentText on their parenting.

The programme was officially launched by UNICEF on Friday in partnership with the Government of Jamaica through the National Parent Support Commission (NPSC) and the University of Oxford’s Department of Social Policy and Intervention and Parenting for Lifelong Health (PLH).

The messages were created and recorded with local parenting experts such as Owen “Blakka” Ellis and Glynis Salmon from Parenting Partners Caribbean (PPC). Users can complete self-assessments to assess the impact of ParentText on their parenting.

“Children need guidance and support from parents but parenting is not an easy job. It does not come with a manual. UNICEF recognises that parents also need support, especially as we struggle to cope with the impacts of COVID-19 on our families,” said UNICEF’s Jamaica Country Representative, Mariko Kagoshima.

According to Kagoshima, ParentText puts helpful information, tips, encouragement and motivation literally at parents’ fingertips, on their cell phones.

“Parents can watch, listen or read content that is specially tailored for the Jamaican reality,” Kagoshima added.

Chief Executive Officer at the NPSC, Kaysia Kerr applauded UNICEF Jamaica for working with both the government and NGOs in the implementation of the project. Key local partners for the programme include PPC, the Women’s Centre of Jamaica Foundation, Children First and NPSC.

“This is the type of partnership which Jamaican parents need and which provides information that is accessible and culturally relevant to them.” Kerr said.

Saara Thakur, Global scale up lead from Oxford University’s Parenting for Lifelong Health welcomed Jamaica to the group of countries implementing the ParentText project.

“This project is part of a global parenting initiative aimed at reducing violence against children and gender-based violence while improving child development and learning outcomes. Our ultimate aim is to provide freely available, evidence-based playful parenting support to every parent, everywhere,” she stated.

ParentText is available by messaging the word PARENT to 876-838-4897 (the number of U-Report, UNICEF’s social messaging service). Users receive daily positive parenting messages in the form of text, audio, videos, comics, and gifs over an average of five to 12 weeks, depending on the frequency selected by parents. Caregivers can also attend a series of social media live events which will discuss child behaviour management, parent-child bonding and positive parenting.
ParentText Jamaica is the first of its kind in the Caribbean.