Whilst it is no new phenomenon that child abuse exists on the island, to read some of the awful stories reported by Ingrid Brown leaves me in no doubt that it is because of the cavalier attitudes of all agencies involved that these numbers are so treacherously high. I do understand that whilst most cases come to the attention of agencies through reports from concerned teachers, doctors or indeed extended family members, I am sure there must be a way to step up community policing as far as child abuse is concerned. It is time for some Jamaicans' to 'leggo' of the attitude that reporting evil crimes is tantamount to 'informing', and as a consequence should carry a penalty all of its own. These criminals are cowardly and hide protected by those in the know to offend again and again without fear of ever being brought to justice. Meanwhile the victims, the innocent children are left to suffer life threatening contamination and psychological damage that undoubtedly never leave them.
Under the Jamaican Child Care and Protection Act, the Ministry of Health is apparently responsible for the implementation of programmes to prevent child abuse. And yet sexual abuse is the third most common reason for children to be taken to hospitals, with children under age 10 accounting for 17 percent of all cases registered and children between the ages of 10 and 19 accounting for fifty seven percent.As far back as 2009 a number of non-government organisations in Kingston reported that gang leaders and sometimes even fathers initiated sex with young girls as aright.There were 578 cases of carnal abuse reported that year. Three years later we are reading how carnal abuse has escalated to rape and buggery, surely there is a need for serious intervention by authorities that have the power to follow through with punishment to those who dare violate the human rights of children.
Conrad Sinclair was found dead on March 28, 2011, at age six. Cause of death: buggered with a cane stalk and found in a shallow grave in a cane field. His killers are still unknown. Less than two months later, on May 15th, 2011, a young unnamed girl aged four, was raped, beaten, buggered and suffocated in her home. Her 20 year-old mother was arrested for negligence while her mother's boyfriend was charged with murder.
There are some academics that will argue child abuse and poverty go hand in hand. If someone could please break that theory down for me in words of no more than two syllables I am willing to learn how being poor motivates one to take set on a child in order for nothing more than sexual gratification. And please whilst you are breaking it down for me, take the time to also explain the minds of partners, or mothers, those who fail to report these awful violations watching their children or those they are trusted to take care of be treated so despicably.How does any one with a conscience look at an innocent child and harm them in these ways? How can we as communities not notice the changes in behaviour of children in the classroom or on the playing field? How do we make excuses that allow individuals to go unpunished for such heinous crimes? Surely it is time for us to adapt, implement and monitor the necessary policies to safeguard all our children!
The ramifications of raising children sexually abused at the hands of their guardians are horrifying. What hope for progress if the trust our minors should have in those who are meant to nurture them is eradicated in their most formative years?
Editor's Note: P. Kirkland is a freelance contributor to MNI Alive.