Opposition Welcomes Study on Effect of Violence on Child Development


Opposition Spokesman on National Security, Derrick Smith has welcomed the research currently being carried out by head of the Early Childhood Commission and clinical psychologist, Dr. Maureen Samms-Vaughn, on the effect of violence in the development, health and behaviour of Jamaican adolescents.
Mr. Smith was making his contribution to the 2005/06 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on May 25. “I believe that this report will be valuable in helping us to understand the effect of crime and violence on the growth and development of our children, and probably give us some insight into how we address it in the future,” he told the House.
“We are going to need this level of scientific intervention if we are to have any understanding of why and how we have lost at least one whole generation of Jamaicans to this culture of violence over the past 16 years,” Mr. Smith added.
He explained that the study involved a number of children born in 1986. They were first studied at the time of their birth, and again at six weeks old, as well as in 1997, 1998 and in 2001 and 2002, to assess the impact of violence on their development over the years.|
In his presentation entitled: ‘Law and Order: the Foundation for Prosperity’, Mr. Smith said the first step towards effective crime control must be the creation of national consensus among parliamentarians. “We have the job of becoming the first line of response. We have been elected to serve the interests of the electorate and I insist that our first priority must be their security,” he stated.
The Opposition Spokesman added that it was important to forge a renewed alliance involving parliamentarians, the security forces and residents in crime-affected communities, to create a force for law and order. “A force expanded beyond the uniformed men and women; a force of honest, decent, law-abiding people willing to cooperate to win back this country from the forces of evil,” he pointed out.
He noted that the Opposition had already expressed its backing of legislation to support this effort, as well as the resumption of bipartisan talks to explore ways and means of dealing with crime.
Commenting on developments in the police force, Mr. Smith said he was heartened by the allocation made in the 2005/06 Budget for the acquisition of an Integrated Ballistic Identification System (IBIS), which would enable the police to link a single firearm to multiple shootings.
He noted further, that the Opposition supported the continued recruiting of new graduates to increase the ranks of the Jamaica Constabulary Force. This is expected to increase the membership of the force to more than 8,000. “We support the graduate entry programme, which is expected to recruit 15 new persons this year, and accelerated promotion, which will be re-activated, with some 25 officers expected to benefit this year,” he stated.
Mr. Smith also expressed approval of the early retirement programme for members of the JCF, which offers two years salary and allowances plus full entitlement to pension. He also urged the government to revisit the suggestion of a 40-hour workweek for the police.
Commenting on the witness protection programme, Mr. Smith suggested that it should be more widely promoted and that this should be done by the National Security Ministry, instead of the police.
In addition, he said there was need for increased staffing and better emoluments for those involved in the programme, in light of the sensitive nature of the job.

JIS Social