Prime Minister Says Violence Against Children Must Be Strongly Condemned

Photo: Garwin Davis Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness (left), is greeted by Minister of Health, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, on his arrival for the opening of the expanded operating theatre and the renovated male surgical ward at the St. Ann’s Bay Regional Hospital, St. Ann, on October 6.

Story Highlights

  • Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, says violence against children does not represent the norm of Jamaican parenthood and should be condemned in the clearest language possible.
  • “I can understand the frustrations that many Jamaican parents feel.  I can understand the pressure that a single mother comes under when her child is entering puberty and adulthood and the behaviour that they will display and also the fears that parents have as to what they may become,” he said.
  • “When we use violence in the disciplining of our children, what we are teaching them is that the only way to deal with stress and to make corrections is by the use of violence,” he said.

Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, says violence against children does not represent the norm of Jamaican parenthood and should be condemned in the clearest language possible.

Citing an incident which has been making the rounds on social media where a woman can be seen beating a young girl, purported to be her daughter, with a machete, Mr. Holness says that not only is it disturbing, but it is also frightening that there would be voices out there that would find such behaviour acceptable.

The Prime Minister was speaking at a ceremony to officially open the expanded operating theatre and  the renovated male surgical ward, and to hand over a new ambulance at the Ann’s Bay Regional Hospital, in St. Ann, on October 6.

“I can understand the frustrations that many Jamaican parents feel.  I can understand the pressure that a single mother comes under when her child is entering puberty and adulthood and the behaviour that they will display and also the fears that parents have as to what they may become,” he said.

However, the Prime Minister  said while he understands that there are things that will sometimes drive parents over the edge, there is no way in good faith he could either accept or justify a child being disciplined in such a manner.

“Let me make it absolutely clear that while I understand it, it is not acceptable,” Mr. Holness declared.

The Prime Minister noted that during his short time as Minister of Education he had to deal with the negative side of corporal punishment, which “does cost the health care sector significantly.”

Mr. Holness emphasised that a part of the development of the country must be a confrontation of the many negative cultural practices that “are holding us back and reinforce violence as a currency of social transaction.”

“When we use violence in the disciplining of our children, what we are teaching them is that the only way to deal with stress and to make corrections is by the use of violence,” he said.

The Prime Minister  pointed out that what is seen on the video does not represent the standard of Jamaican parenting.

“But, I am not here to condemn the mother. She needs help and support. We don’t excuse her behaviour. She has to answer to what the law of the land is. But, we have to use her as an example as to how we can turn her around to be a spokesperson for good parenting. We must support her and bring her to the realization that how she is parenting is not the only way,”  Mr. Holness.

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