HUMAN rights group Jamaicans For Justice (JFJ), after coming under sustained fire from various sectors of society for an inappropriate sex-education pilot programme targeting wards of the State in six children’s homes, has admitted that it blundered badly.
JFJ had begun teaching children under its ‘Healthy Sexual Growth and Development in Marginalised Youth: Rights, Responsibilities and Life Skills’ programme, but has been harshly criticised after it was discovered that the curriculum was laced with age-inappropriate oral, anal and vaginal penetration lessons under the guise of ‘tolerance’.
The pilot programme was done in May 2014, without the knowledge of the Child Development Agency, which has direct responsibility for children’s homes.
Yesterday, JFJ’s board of directors issued a statement saying that the organisation “accepts full and unconditional responsibility for not vetting the programme content and its release”.
JFJ implemented the programme, in partnership with Jamaica Family Planning Association (FAMPLAN), which it said was unaware of the inclusion of the controversial material.
The breakdown in the content of the material is reportedly the work of Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVCC) — a group which provides services to homosexuals, sex workers, people who use drugs, orphans, and other children made vulnerable by HIV, migrant populations and ex-prisoners.
“We also apologise to our other stakeholders for not first clearing with them the programme content prior to its release. JFJ acknowledges that a breakdown in its usually scrupulous in-house vetting regime occurred.
JFJ wishes to assure the public and its stakeholders that immediate safeguards have been reinstituted to mitigate against any recurrence of the kind,” the rights group said in its statement.
At the same time, it promised an internal review of the matter and that it would advise the public on the findings of the review and the remedial action to be taken.
Meanwhile, several groups have lashed out against the JFJ education programme, describing it as a deliberate attempt to foist unhealthy sexual practices on vulnerable wards in the children’s homes.
Among those voicing criticism was the Jamaica Coalition for a Healthy Society, which said yesterday it was incensed but not surprised at the unauthorised and unsolicited interventions of JFJ and its partners, which they described as known advocates of harmful sexual behaviours.
“The JFJ and the CVCC have evidently targeted our children to indoctrinate them about behaviours that are both harmful to the individual and society, and are incapable of promoting healthy lifestyles.
These are among the groups that simultaneously collaborated to engineer the attempted dismissal of Professor Brendan Bain from as head of CHART, based on his factual evidence about these very behaviours,” the coalition said in a release.
Yesterday, Opposition spokeswoman on youth and culture, Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange came down hard on Youth and Culture Minister Lisa Hanna who, she said, was out of touch with the happenings in her ministry and the agencies for which she had responsibility.
She said that Hanna, in response to the issue, has demonstrated the extent to which she was unaware of key developments concerning agencies within her remit.
“In this case, the conduct of a controversial course in six homes was over an eight-month period,” Grange said.