JIS News

Children’s Advocate, Mary Clarke, has said that her office will be taking a zero tolerance approach to children hustling on the streets during the yuletide season.
“I will not hesitate to deal with every incident. Christmas is coming and at Christmas, we tend to see a lot of children on the streets hustling. We have to get them off the streets and [send out] our messages of zero tolerance for children on the streets this holiday season, even before they go out on the streets,” she stated at a recent Parenting Seminar held at Pollyanna Caterers in Kingston. The seminar was organized by the Kingston and St. Andrew Family Court under the theme: ‘Violence against children’.
Mrs. Clarke also appealed to parents to be vigilant in ensuring safety in the home this Christmas. “Remember the tips for safety in the home. We don’t want any fires… tears at Christmas. Be vigilant with the Christmas trees, the lights, where you have matches, and as you take them (children) out to Grand Market and the streets,” she implored.
Addressing the theme of the seminar, the Children’s Advocate argued that many of the problems in the society could be avoided through proper parenting.
“I firmly believe that many of the problems of our children and our society today could be avoided if adequate and effective parenting is practised. The problems of the society or the good outcome in the society rests to a large extent on the shoulders of parents,” she stated.
Noting that a lot of the violent behaviour being displayed by students was learnt, Mrs. Clarke said: “we have to get our acts together as adults if we expect to see change in our children. We have to deal with community violence and stresses at the community level that are impacting our children.If we are going to deal with children and violence, we have to deal with the incidence of violence in the home and the society”.
She further called on parents to educate their children on how to protect themselves. “Parents, you need to set boundaries for your children. You need to tell them what time they are expected home and if they are not home at that time, you need to ask questions. You need to know where your children are when they are not in school and when they are not at home. When you are sending them out to spend weekends, you need to know where you are sending them and with whom and so all of us together as a society, if we keep by the rules, will be able to protect our children,” the Children’s Advocate asserted.
According to Mrs. Clarke, parents need not feel threatened by children being aware of their rights, since awareness helps to protect them.
“Many parents develop a sense of uneasiness and concern when the rights of children are mentioned. They feel very threatened that their parental influence will be lost because of a child’s understanding of rights and awareness of these rights. However, if parents are informed and empowered about the rights of their children, then they will become the true advocates and practitioners in promoting and enforcing these rights,” she pointed out.
“A child who is aware of his rights is much better able to respect not only his/her rights but the rights of others. A child aware of his own rights can protect him or herself from harmful influence,” she added.