19 Tivoli boys reunited with their families

NINETEEN of the 20 children, who were being held by the police at a temporary detention centre at the National Arena, were claimed by members of their families yesterday.

The boys, whose ages ranged from 14 to 17 years, were among the 500 or so persons being held at the centre that was set up to hold detainees from Tivoli Gardens and neighbouring communities in West Kingston, that are now being searched by members of the security forces.

The lawmen are on the hunt for Tivoli Gardens don Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke, who is wanted by the United States to face gun and drug-trafficking charges.

The Child Development Agency (CDA) had on Thursday expressed concern about the boys, who they said were “in need of care and protection”. At the time the CDA said it would begin a process to identify spaces at places of safety for the boys.

But yesterday, Rashida St Juste — communications officer at the CDA — said family members had turned up for 19 of the 20 boys, leaving only one in the CDA’s care who had been put in a place of safety.

She said all the children will be getting the necessary psychosocial support.

“So even though we only have one child of the 20, those children who are going back to their families will still get psychosocial support,” St Juste said, adding that the CDA had confirmed that a total 68 children were at the detention centre over the period.

Meanwhile, the entity is collaborating with the Guidance and Counselling Unit of the Ministry of Education to address the individual needs of the children and their families living in the affected areas. The agency has also joined with the Trauma Response Initiative being spearheaded by the Department of Sociology and Social Work at the University of the West Indies.

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