Parents urged to note emotional, behavioural changes in children Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

Parents are being encouraged to be vigilant and seek the requisite support services and interventions when they observe emotional and behavioural changes in their children in the aftermath of traumatic events.

This urging comes from Director of the Justice Ministry’s Victim Services Branch (VSB), Dionne-Dawn Binns, who was speaking during a recent Jamaica Information Service (JIS) ‘Think Tank’ at the agency’s head office in Kingston.

Binns said crime and other traumatic incidents will have different effects on each child, noting that some of these can be spotted early if parents are vigilant. 

“Their sleeping pattern may change, their eating patterns may change, and how they express themselves will change. Sometimes, because they’re not able to express in words what is happening to them, they will act out. So, a child who is normally very mild-mannered can become very aggressive, as well as a child who is normally very outspoken can become very withdrawn,” she outlined.

Binns further pointed out that while these changes should be probed and addressed once observed, it is important that parents make their children feel safe enough to share their feelings with them.

“Some children are very afraid, not only to express what is happening to them, but to tell those who are around them and those who they should feel safe enough talking to. So, we encourage persons to provide safe environments for the children, encourage the children to be open to talk, and where you’re not getting anything out of them, seek professional help,” she said.

The VSB has established child-friendly spaces in Portland and Manchester to provide a specially furnished environment for its child clients to feel safe to share their feelings and be assisted where necessary.

“The important thing is getting the child to open up, and they’re not going to do that if they don’t trust the person, or they don’t feel safe and comfortable in their environment,” Binns underscored.

“We have created child friendly spaces that are outfitted to provide comfort to a child. Even the furniture in the room is the size of a child in some instances. We have various tools and toys that the child would feel comfortable interacting with. So, one of the things I encourage is that whenever you are trying to get through to a child, you must ensure they are in a state of comfort, a state of relaxation and it will help them to open up,” the director added.

Binns said parents can access the VSB’s services free of cost, even without being completely certain that there is something to address, as a proactive step.

“Bring the child in… because it is critical, too, that we treat with these things very early. Sometimes child victims become perpetrators themselves, and we have seen that even dealing with some of the children that have come to us. So, we also want to be able to prevent these things from happening,” she emphasised.

More information on the programmes and services offered by the Victim Services Branch and its parish offices is available on the Ministry of Justice website,, toll free by calling 888 JUSTICE (888-587-8423), (876) 946-0663 or (876) 946-9287.