Kingston 7 May 2019 (JIS) - Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, is assuring that the Government will take appropriate measures to bring the perpetrators of crimes against children to justice.
Speaking at the launch of Workers’ Week and Labour Day 2019 activities at the Office of the Prime Minister on Tuesday (May 7), he also assured that every case of abuse that is brought to the Government’s attention “will be thoroughly investigated and those who are accountable will be brought to book”.
Activities for Labour Day, to be observed on Thursday, May 23, will focus on the safety of children.
Noting that it is of “great concern” to him that the nation’s children “are being abused, brutalised and murdered”, the Prime Minister said he is still horrified about the recent brutal murders of 11-year-old Tricia Morris of Woodland District in Hanover and eight-year-old Shantae Skyers of Sterling Castle Heights in St. Andrew.
“Our children deserve better, and they need to know that they are protected and that we ‘have their back’ at all times,” Mr. Holness said, adding that as a nation, “we must actively condemn such heinous acts against our children, and my heart goes out to the parents and families of both girls”.
He lamented that in cases like that of Shantae and Tricia, it is not usually strangers who commit the crimes, but, inevitably, the perpetrators are persons who they know from the community – “the very community that is supposed to be raising the child”.
The Prime Minister called on all Jamaicans to “act decisively against these criminals”, and while not taking matters into their own hands, “to work with law enforcement to ensure that those who commit such horrible acts against the most vulnerable of citizens are brought to account under the law”.
Citing statistics from the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA), the Prime Minister pointed out that on average, 10 out of every 1,000 children are the subject of child abuse or maltreatment. He also noted that 79 per cent of children witness violence in their communities or homes, and 68 out of 100,000 Jamaican children are victims of violent crimes.
Mr. Holness contended that this is a reflection on the community and the entire society, “that within our midst, there are those who would prey on our children,” noting that there are “ridiculous” traditional beliefs or norms that people use to excuse these acts.
He noted, for example, that some men mistakenly believe that young girls have the cure for various ills and that it is acceptable to touch women and young girls, without their consent, with some believing that children can consent.
The Prime Minister also pointed to some parents, who, for financial reasons, do not object to their children engaging in relationships with older men, noting that “they passively agree to it, and the community sometimes knows and does nothing”.
“The Government of Jamaica, in no way subscribes to or is ambivalent about the sociocultural issues that still continue to support the basis on which some of our men, in particular, rely on to abuse our children. These things must be wiped away from our culture,” he emphasised.