Speech

Minister of Youth and Culture and Member of Parliament for South East St Ann, the Honourable Lisa Hanna, is deeply saddened by the passing of 11-year-old Octavia Smith, a student of the Prickly Pole Primary School in Bensonton, St Ann.

According to Minister Hanna, while the cause of the student’s death is unknown, she is perturbed by preliminary reports which suggest that a number of children were ushered unto a bus by parents and other persons to participate in a demonstration, resulting in the death of one child.

“I am sending a very strong message to parents, school officials and community leaders to shy away from practices that infringe the rights of our children or interfere with their overall wellbeing and also expose them to mortal danger, which are both offences under the Child Care and Protection Act (CCPA). It is indeed a sad situation, the Child Development Agency (CDA) and I have spoken with the father of the child and have conveyed to him our deepest condolences and assured him of our assistance going forward,” the Minister said.

Minister Hanna has instructed the CDA to deploy a team of first responders to provide support to the classmates of the deceased child and to investigate the circumstances under which the children were taken out of school.

Chief Executive Officer of the CDA, Rosalee Gage-Gray said they will be leaving no stone unturned to investigate the matter. She added that the Agency’s social workers and psychologist will continue to provide support to other children affected by the untimely passing of the student.