JIS News

Children’s Advocate, Mary Clarke, has urged parents of children with disabilities, to be more proactive in safeguarding the welfare of the youngsters. She made this plea against the background of what she said are numerous reports of disabled children being abused, particularly by family members and relatives.
Mrs. Clarke, who was speaking at a parent conference staged by the Ministry of Education’s Special Education Unit at the Caenwood Centre on Thursday (Dec. 6), said children with disabilities are often victims of incest.
“Parents, you need to know where your children are at all times. I have had too many reports of parents sending their children to stay with uncles, brothers, sisters, and grandparents, and they are sexually abused,” the Children’s Advocate stated. She urged parents to ensure that the persons in whose care their children are entrusted are of good standing and have the children’s interest at heart.
Mrs. Clarke, who spoke on the topic: ‘Parent Advocacy’, bemoaned the many challenges faced by disabled children at home, in schools and in the wider community, pointing out that they need more love and support.
“One of the challenges they face, especially in the home, is the inferiority complex. We must not make them feel guilty (about their disabilities). Don’t hate them or make them feel unworthy,” Mrs. Clarke appealed, noting that “responsible parenting is key to the development of children with disabilities.”
Mrs. Clarke explained that under the Convention of the Rights of the Child and the Jamaican Constitution, every child is entitled to and guaranteed a standard of living adequate for their physical, mental, spiritual, moral, and social development. “They have a right to be protected from abuse, neglect, torture, and exploitation. They have a right to develop their full potential,” she contended.
To this end, the Children’s Advocate underscored the need for parents to familiarize themselves with the provisions of these documents, as they relate to children with disabilities. These, she pointed out, include ensuring that the youngsters are not discriminated against, are treated equally with other children, and are provided with the best educational opportunities available.
“We all have to make an effort to ensure (that) these children, are not only guaranteed their rights, but are given their rights by government and civil society,” Mrs. Clarke stated.