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JIS News

President of the National Parent Teachers’ Association of Jamaica (NPTAJ), Miranda Sutherland, has added to the call for the age of consent to be increased from 16 to 18 years.
“The age of consent for sexual relationship is 16 in this country and yet we scream about teenage pregnancy. If that is the age of consent, aren’t we technically saying that persons can well become families and get married at that time? Aren’t we therefore saying that these persons are capable to begin to set up families?” she questioned during a recent interview with JIS News.
Stating that the age of consent should be 18 years, the NAJ President said that this is the age when one becomes an adult. “It is at this point that you begin to vote, you would have graduated from at least high school, and you can begin to work,” she pointed out.
According to Mrs. Sutherland, the “low age of consent is a big problem in the country” and some of the poor parenting practises that exist in the society, are because there are too many young parents.
“These parents, who themselves are young, do not know how to raise children. They themselves are not even fully grown up… there is no maturity among these people and they are not able to give guidance to their children. They have not learnt it themselves so they cannot pass it on,” she asserted.
The NPTAJ is currently hosting a series of ‘PTA Speak Out’ sessions in an attempt to discuss the age of consent, among other issues.
“We had for the first time what we call a ‘PTA Speak Out’ at St. Hugh’s High School earlier this month,” Mrs. Sutherland informed JIS News, “and we are continuing to have these ‘Speak Out’ [sessions] across the island. The next Speak Out is scheduled for January 22, to be held in Trelawny and surely [the age of consent] will be one of the topics that will be heavily debated along with the crime and violence that is taking place in the country and the whole issue of adherence to rules and regulations in schools.”
“So, we are beginning to let our voices be heard on the subject so we are inviting debate and opening the discussions, and after that we will make our recommendations,” she added.
In the meantime, the NPTAJ President is calling for the rebuilding of the family structure with both parents taking on their responsibilities.
“We are calling for the rebuilding of the family. We are calling for parents to take care of their children… we lift our hats off to those (mothers) who raise children by themselves but a male in a home represents authority, order, a level of stability,” she pointed out.
She noted that while “there is the argument that some men can’t even take care of their families, the fact that they are present makes a big difference in the home, so we need to have two parents raising children. Women cannot pour into the male child all the requisite skills of a man and vice versa.”

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