KINGSTON — Labour and Social Security Minister, Hon. Pearnel Charles, has called for the restoration of community parenting and family development, in order to safeguard the welfare of the nation’s children.
Speaking at the launch of activities for Workers’ Week and Labour Day at Devon House, in St. Andrew, last week, Mr. Charles, while noting the significance and relevance of this year’s theme: ‘It takes a Village to Raise a Child’, lamented the loss of family values, which compromises the children’s welfare.
“Too many of our children suffer from the effects of violence, drugs, dysfunctional households and teenage pregnancies. Too many of our teenagers are having children, and they themselves are children. These are issues that our children should never have to deal with….and are matters that must be given serious attention. We must work to ensure that the rights of our children are safeguarded,” the Minister emphasised.
Stressing that the welfare of the nation’s children was not the sole remit of the state, Mr. Charles reminded parents of their responsibilities in this regard, adding that child rearing is the “greatest investment that God has given to man.” He also appealed to fathers to play an active and integral role in their children’s development.
The Minister also called on stakeholders in the entertainment and information industries to do their part in preserving the children’s welfare. He noted that advances in technology have resulted in greater exposure of these cohorts to “new forms of entertainment and information.”
“While technology has a place and is considered the way of the future, we must never forget that their curious minds need to be occupied appropriately, so that they can develop and learn at the right pace. I am making a call to the deejays, the music makers, because if they don’t know the influence they have on our children…I want to tell them that they are even more influential than some of the parents, just through music. They can teach them whatever they want through music. If these musicians start to produce certain types of records for the children without the ‘x’ sections, but rather the ‘ABC’ sections, the children would welcome those songs,” Mr. Charles said.
Regarding Labour Day, Mr. Charles said the occasion has become a calendar event, not only to celebrate a public holiday, but also to emphasise community involvement right across Jamaica.
“We are called to volunteer this Labour Day, to beautify public areas, repair, paint, and fix senior citizens’ homes, and schools in the communities. I wish to salute the workers of Jamaica, and to recognise them as the cornerstone of Jamaica’s economic life,” he said.
Workers Week starts on May 15 and culminates on Labour Day, May 23. This year’s activities will incorporate the input of representatives of the three African Missions in Jamaica – Nigeria, South Africa and Senegal. Their involvement coincides with the United Nations declaration of 2011 as the International Year of People of African Descent (IPAD), which influenced the government’s decision to invite the participation of the three Missions, as well as the theme for Workers’ Week and Labour Day.
By DOUGLAS McINTOSH, JIS Reporter