JIS News

Children’s Advocate, Mary Clarke today called on the nation to protect its children, to stop committing violence against them, and to settle disputes without attacking them.
Speaking against the background of the recent incidents of child murders during the past week, Mrs. Clarke said the issue of violence against children was great cause for concern. “I want to mobilize the public in a campaign against children and violence,” she stated, urging all citizens to “come together to provide support for family members and especially for children who are hurting”.
Mrs. Clarke noted that at times, this support would require confidentiality.
She extended condolences to all the affected families and emphasized that it was the role of the Office of the Children’s Advocate to promote and protect the Rights of Children. She added that, “it is the right of children to live in communities that are safe and free from violence”.
Mrs. Clarke noted that, “it takes a village to raise a child” and that if communities worked together to form community groups that were responsible for the protection of children, then they would be safer.
“Among the Masai tribe in Africa, they don’t greet each other by saying how are you, they greet each other by saying ‘are the children well’.because among that tribe, the well-being of the whole village hangs on the well-being of the children. We can learn from the Masai tribe,” she said.
Mrs. Clarke expressed great concern at the killing of five members of a family in St. Thomas, three of whom were nine, eight and three years old. She has also expressed deep concern over the stabbing death of a 15-year old Mona High School student on the weekend, as well as the shooting death of the six-year old child of a police corporal in Hartlands, St. Catherine, last week.
A former Manager of the Social Development and Gender unit at the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), Mrs. Clarke was appointed Children’s Advocate in January 2006.
As part of her mandate under the Child Care and Protection Act, she is mandated to protect the rights and best interests of children, give advice and make recommendations to Parliament or any Minister or relevant authority on matters concerning rights and best interests of children, review and recommend changes to laws and practices affecting the rights of children.
In addition, the Children’s Advocate is responsible for providing legal representation and related assistance to children, investigating and hearing complaints brought on behalf of children against government authorities, and reporting to Parliament and to the public on the functions and investigations of the office.

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