JIS News

Minister of Information, Culture, Youth and Sports, Olivia Grange, is has given a commitment to facilitate the necessary dialogue, which she says will lead tangible, positive, and measurable outcomes in the interest of the nation’s children.
This commitment comes against the background of concerns, which she voiced regarding the levels of violence being committed against, and perpetrated by the nation’s youngsters, and has called for a collaborative approach to effectively address these challenges.
Speaking at the two-day Caribbean Child Research Conference, which concluded at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston on Wednesday (Oct. 22), Miss Grange lamented statistics, which paint a disheartening picture of the welfare of Jamaican children.
“In May 2008, when we celebrated Child Month, 200 children below age 10 were treated at the Bustamante Children’s Hospital in Kingston, for accident-related injuries and physical abuse; in addition, 12 children were murdered, casualties of gang violence. In 2006, of the 1,340 persons murdered, a total of 175 were children, 149 boys and 26 girls; and that was up from 91 in 2005. In 2006, over 1,700 children were victims of major crimes, including murder, rape, robbery, and break-ins,” the Minister disclosed.
She further said that in 2006, of 1,509 patients referred to health facilities, who were victims of sexual assault, 78 percent were children and adolescents, with six percent being boys, and 94 percent, girls, aged zero to 19 years.
While bemoaning these statistics, Miss Grange noted that the challenges affecting children were not restricted to Jamaica or the Caribbean, but were a “global phenomenon.”
“We see similar (and other) happenings in Europe, Africa, Asia, and Latin America, (as well as) right here in the Caribbean, where criminals are recruiting children as gunmen, and demanding sex from under age girls. This must stop.
“We see pictures of young boys being trained as armed insurgents in many of the civil wars taking place around the world. young boys being trained to kill. Just last Sunday, one of our daily newspapers reported an Assistant Commissioner of Police suggesting that delinquent teenagers should be tried as adults, because of the level at which they are being recruited by criminal gangs to commit crimes. Isn’t this unfortunate?” she asked.
Police statistics, the Minister pointed out, reveal that in 2006, youngsters, aged 12 to 20, committed 146 murders, 163 shootings, and 202 robberies. These statistics, she added, are indicative of “dramatic” increases in the levels of violence being committed by and against children in Jamaica.
“We can’t allow this to continue. It has become such a burning issue for all of us, not just in Jamaica, but in the Caribbean, that we need to approach it more seriously on a regional level. We must have a [collaborative] approach to finding solutions to these overbearing challenges. As Minister of Information, Youth, (and) Gender (Affairs),.. I stand ready to assist in facilitating the dialogue that will lead to tangible, positive, and measurable outcomes in the interest of our children,” Miss Grange assured.
The two-day regional interdisciplinary conference, which was held under the theme: ‘Promoting Child Rights through Research: Building a Region Fit for Children’, was attended by over 100 participants from Jamaica, the Caribbean, North America, Asia, Africa, and Europe.
It aimed to share research findings on children throughout the region, as well as strengthen the network of researchers on issues affecting them. The conference was staged by the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) in partnership with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute for Social and Economic Studies (SALISES) at the University of the West Indies (UWI), the Caribbean Child Development Centre, and the Office of the Children’s Advocate.