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JIS News

Story Highlights

  • National Security Minister, Hon. Peter Bunting, is again urging communities to adopt a zero tolerance approach to crime, by reporting the presence of criminals and illegal guns.
  • This, he emphasised, is imperative in order to safeguard the welfare of residents, particularly the children.
  • The Minister, who represented Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, rubbished the suggestion that persons carrying illegal guns are ‘protecting’ the communities in which they are based, describing persons advancing this argument as “parasites.”

National Security Minister, Hon. Peter Bunting, is again urging communities to adopt a zero tolerance approach to crime, by reporting the presence of criminals and illegal guns.

This, he emphasised, is imperative in order to safeguard the welfare of residents, particularly the children.

“Anywhere you have illegal guns, your children are at risk. As long as you tolerate criminals in the community, as long as you tolerate illegal guns, you are going to fund these gangsters preying on your children,” the Minister said.

Mr. Bunting was speaking at the first in a series of child safety and security town hall meetings, jointly undertaken by the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) and the Ministry of Youth and Culture, at Edwin Allen High School, in Frankfield, Clarendon, on May 28.

The Minister, who represented Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, rubbished the suggestion that persons carrying illegal guns are ‘protecting’ the communities in which they are based, describing persons advancing this argument as “parasites.”

Mr. Bunting argued that the degeneration of communities falling prey to criminality, does not occur overnight.

Rather, he said this starts when residents begin to tolerate “certain things,” adding that gradually, “more and more dysfunctional behaviour creeps in…(and they) start to tolerate guys walking around with guns, saying that they are ‘patrolling’.”

“We are seeing it over and over…where in every community where there are illegal guns, children end up paying the price for those being around.  You have to draw the line; as adults you have to have zero tolerance, for your sake and for the children’s sake,” the Minister implored.

Meanwhile, Mr. Bunting is encouraging children to use the medium they deem most convenient to report any information they have, confirmed or suspected, of criminal activities and illegal guns in their communities to the police.

“There is crime stop…you can tell a trusted adult, you can tell a pastor or a teacher. There is also the new Stay Alert App. Those  of you (who) have smart phones can download  for free  and make a report,” he advised.

Meanwhile, Youth and Culture Minister, Hon. Lisa Hanna, said the Government remains committed to providing resources to facilitate programmes for both the development and protection of the nation’s children.

This, she pointed out, is evidenced by the $89 billion earmarked for expenditure across eight Ministries, to undertake children and youth programmes and projects during the 2015/16 fiscal year.

Ms. Hanna said that while the administration has ramped up several such initiatives, based on the incidence and extent of child abuse and deaths surfacing, particularly over recent months, “we also felt it was important to come into communities, to let (residents) know exactly what we are seeing, and what we are expecting of you, (and) to really get connected on the ground, because the Government can’t do it all.”

In this regard, Ms. Hanna said the Prime Minister asked that a number of town hall meetings be staged, particularly in parishes plagued by the incidence of child abuse.

Thursday’s meeting saw several other Government Ministers and representatives of child state agencies attending and addressing the fair-sized gathering which braved torrential rains to be there.

They included: Minister with Responsibility for the Public Service,  Hon. Horace Dalley; Justice Minister, Senator the Hon. Mark Golding; and Transport, Works and Housing State Minister and Member of Parliament for North West Clarendon,  Hon. Richard Azan.

Speaking with JIS News, Ms. Hanna said she was pleased with the outcome of the first meeting.

“It rained…so a lot of the persons who would have wanted to be here…were not able to make it. But, we had a good turnout. Persons asked some very pertinent questions, and we were very pleased with the interaction from the youngsters. We will definitely build on this going forward,” she said.

Ms. Hanna advised that meetings are being scheduled for other parishes, including: Kingston and St. Andrew, St. Catherine, St. Thomas and Westmoreland.

Also attending were: Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Elaine Foster-Allen; Children’s Advocate, Diahann Gordon Harrison; Executive Director, Child Development Agency (CDA), Rosalee Gage-Gray; and Children’s Registrar, Greig Smith.