Editorial

Jamaicans, unite to protect our children

Friday, November 02, 2018

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Just a week ago in this space, we bemoaned the high level of crimes and abuse committed against our children. In this regards we are quite encouraged by moves by the Government that suggest the Administration is taking the issue seriously.

Indeed, this is an issue that the entire nation needs to take seriously, much more than we are doing at the moment. For there is a sense in which all our children belong to all of us.

On Wednesday, the Jamaica Constabulary Force reported that a total of 353 major crimes have been perpetrated against children across Jamaica since the start of this year. While these latest statistics represent a 27 per cent reduction in reported crimes against the young ones, and we obviously welcome any reduction, nevertheless it is necessary to point out that that number of 353 is still way too high. The attendant mental and physical trauma associated with these crimes is astounding.

The stark reality is that in that 353 are 48 murders – 30 males and 18 females. That too is a reduction from last year, but no caring Jamaican will find any consolation in that. It is an indictment on all of us who claim to be living in a civilised country.

In this regard, the disclosure in Parliament by Minister of National Security Dr Horace Chang on Tuesday of an expanded partnership with Crime Stop, to include a special reward scheme to improve investigations of murders of the country's most vulnerable, especially children and the elderly, is timely.

We suggest that it is only a first but quite necessary step in dealing with this terrible blot against this nation.

The partnership with Crime Stop, with the added incentive of payment, is intended to encourage more people to come forward with useful information to assist with the investigations, arrest and successful prosecution of all guilty parties.

Of course, the reality is that while convictions can send a potent message to the criminals, they are always achieved after a crime is committed. We would therefore urge the authorities and the country to concentrate harder on preventing crimes against children.

Beyond the sordid business of child abuse, there needs to be a more serious commitment to their development from early childhood, through quality education and adequate social interaction.

We are also encouraged by the fact that a Joint Select Committee of Parliament has recently concluded deliberations on a suite of laws — namely the Sexual Offences Act, the Domestic Violence Act, the Child Care and Protection Act and the Offences Against the Person Act.

We hope now that the legal deliberations are over, Minister Chang and his team will move with haste in bringing the various amendments to Parliament for discussion and eventually ratification. The time for political dithering is over.

We use this opportunity to urge all Jamacans to do everything in our power to protect, educate and facilitate the next generation. And right now that means sharing what we know about crime and violence with the police and child protection agencies.

Be courageous in coming forward with your information to Crime Stop which has gained a good record of being highly efficient and providing total anonymity.

Let's all stand up for what is right for our children's sake.

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