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Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Senator Dorothy Lightbourne, is appealing to Jamaicans to come together in an effort to reverse the recent trend of violence against children.
“As a nation, we need to unite and act with urgency to reverse this unacceptable trend,” she stated as she addressed the launch of the Kingston and St. Andrew Family Court’s Parenting Seminar at Pollyanna Caterers in Kingston on Friday (Nov. 21). “The fight to rescue our nation must begin with the rescuing of our children from violence,” she added.
According to the Justice Minister, the statistics surrounding violence against children are very alarming. She cited a police report, issued at the beginning of November, which shows that since January 1, 2008, 73 children have been murdered and 383 cases of carnal abuse were reported.
“As alarming as the figures are, it does not end there,” Minister Lightbourne said, noting that, “we have not been able to capture sufficiently, the incidents of physical and oftentimes verbal abuse meted out to children in their own households. This too is a form of violence and a very serious form [as it] affects their emotional and psychological form of development.”
“We know that flogging and other forms of physical punishment are deeply rooted in the Jamaican society. There are many parents who even threaten to ‘murder’ their children, even some as young as two years old. This form of abuse cuts across all social classes and is often perpetrated by those who are expected to protect our children – parents and family members. Every form of violence against children is an infringement on their rights as human beings and as young citizens of this country,” she stated.
She stressed that violent acts against children will scar them for life. “Every violent act inflicted on our children has negative consequences for the future of our country. Irrespective of the form that violence towards our children takes, the result is the same – emotional scars that for many years remain with them and sometimes never go away,” the Justice Minister pointed out.
The seminar, held under the theme: ‘Violence Against Children,’ aims to sensitise parents about the signs of abuse through various workshops.