Jamaica Observer:– KINGSTON, Jamaica — State Minister for Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Alando Terrelonge, is urging parents, teachers and caregivers to not only encourage play amongst children, but to look out for the telltale signs of abuse during this activity.
Terrelonge was speaking at a forum focusing on the importance of play for children held at the Maxfield Park Children’s Home in Kingston today.
“Sometimes (out of) fear, they (children) won’t talk, they won’t tell you what’s happening, they won’t tell you what they are going through, but if you give them things to play with, or if you watch how they play with other kids, they will actually act out what is happening to them, they will act out that abuse, and they will let you know about that trauma just by playing,” the state minister said.
He said that play is also a form of therapy that psychiatrists and psychologists use when they suspect a child is being abused, noting, for instance, that this activity can reveal that “something is wrong” if children are too aggressive or withdrawn.
“(Mothers)… if your children live with you half the time and half the time with Daddy, and when they are playing you notice something [isn’t right], it’s a signal that maybe something is happening at Daddy’s house; or Daddy, maybe something is happening at Mommy’s house. At school, children can use play to tell teachers what is happening at home, so teachers look out for those signals as well,” he advised.
In the meantime, the State Minister pointed out that play, which has been deemed the right of every child by the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights, is an important tool for children’s cognitive, physical, social and emotional development.
“Parents, allow the children to play, allow them to express themselves, and allow them to interact with other children as well. Allow them to develop their own emotional well-being, to develop their own social skills (and) leadership skills,” he urged.