Parliamentarians Urged to Give More Attention to Plight of Children


Professor Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, former United Nations (UN) independent expert for the UN study on violence against children, has called on Parliamentarians to concentrate on the plight of children in the effort to address violence in the society.
Parliamentary proceedings were temporarily suspended yesterday (February 26), to allow Professor Pinheiro to address Members on the matter of violence against children.
The Professor told the Lower House that reducing violence against children is a critical step in lowering the country’s overall crime rate.
“In an environment where violence breeds more violence, the ways in which Jamaican children experience and are subjected to violence, are inextricably linked to the unrelenting levels of crime and violence affecting the island, the region and the continent,” Professor Pinheiro said.
Turning to ways in which the country can address the matter, Professor Pinheiro said Jamaica should ensure that preventive efforts are aimed at improving parenting skills, expanding life skill based education in more of the nation’s schools, and strongly promoting positive forms of discipline.
While admitting that strong prevention efforts are central to addressing violence against children, professor Pinheiro also called for speedy responses whenever these acts occur.
In that regard, he called for a tightening of laws to hold perpetrators accountable, and emphasized the need for early and humane treatment of victims.”The justice system and police must work very carefully not to exacerbate the pain and suffering of children. Equally, perpetrators must be held accountable for their violations. An efficient system to assist victims and stop perpetrators is central to changing the state of fear and isolation of many victims of recurrent forms of violence,” Professor Pinheiro emphasised.
He added that addressing violence against children requires the co-ordinated and continuous work of different sectors of government and civil society. The Professor also suggested that a systematic framework be developed to address the issue, adding that this should be incorporated into the national planning process.
He was given the opportunity to address the House on the invitation of the Speaker, Delroy Chuck, at the request of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
The action was in support of Peace Month (February 7 to March 4), a major campaign being led by the Violence Prevention Alliance (VPA).

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