To Hang or not to Hang

•November 25, 2008 • Leave a Comment

The debate on the death penalty is on in Parliament and the topic is on everyone’s mind and lips.The wave of murders ,rapes and abductions that has left the society reeling in pain and fear has fanned the flames of pro hanging arguments.

I personally find myself giving a lot of thought to the issue of hanging and the enforcement of the death penalty. The crisis facing the society demands very drastic measures. One ,therefore, would instinctively turn to the enforcement of the death penalty as a fitting consequence to these gruesome acts of murder.

Should this measure be adopted,however, the root cause of crime and violence will not be dealt with. The social ills that have brought the society to this unprecedented crisis need urgent intervention and it will certainly take a while for the formulation and actualisation of the programs that would alleviate the social problems facing us at this stage.

When we look at the rate of unemployment in the country we certainly do not have an immediate solution to this problem not with the economy facing such great challenges. The angry , frustrated young people will not forget their anguish and pain in the face of unemployment,hunger and poverty.Their aggressive, violent reaction to their unmet needs, their unrealised dreams will not suddenly be annilihated by  the enforcement of the death penalty.As far as they are concerned the day after the enforcement of the death penalty  will be just another day in hell as usual.

When I look at this reality I am forced to ask myself a few questions.

Hasn’t the noose of poverty , hunger, neglect and abuse been tied around their neck from the cradle slowly stifling their ability to learn through malnutrition,neglect and a totally redundant educational system?

Hasn’t the noose of political neglect been tied around their neck chocking their childhood  and their teenage years in overcrowded, filthy environment through the lack of affordable housing for the working class citizens? Hasn’t it been stifling their wish to sleep on a clean bed and escape the inferno of the tennement yards? killing their dream of being raised in a home with structures and boundaries, rules and principles to abide by.Haven’t the politicians created the inner cities to suit their political needs and greed?

Hasn’t the noose of social prejudices kept them marginalised, unworthy of the respect of their countrymen ,stifling in them the wish to live, filling their heart with such a deep sense of hopelessness, helplessness and anger?

“Innercity people, born criminal, worthless, with no ambition ,fit fe hang” now that they are killing women and children. Hang them !hang them high! dem fe dead!!! dem kill so kill dem!!!…..Hang dem ! hang dem! hang dem for the second time for we done kill dem long time now. Hang dem again! me say hang dem again! dem fe dead two times!…

I say that the enforcement of the death penalty is a futile exercise as the root cause of crime and violence will continue to grow and mushroom as long as we do not put into place programs that will restore hope in the spirit of all jamaicans, restore the dignity and sense of worth of all and create a balance in the distribution of wealth.Let us establish programs that will take the noose from aroud the necks of our children from the cradle.We have sentenced many to death and we have already  killed many as many as there are who are born in the vicious grip of poverty and helplessness. Lucky are those who have wrestled with the odds and have taken the noose off their neck and have become a Melaine Walker and a Shelly-Ann Fraser.To hang or not to hang let us pray about it only God can truly show us the way.

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Women and Children in Peril in Jamaica

•November 18, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Women and children in the Jamaican society are experiencing one of the most horrifying and painful crisis . The number of murders of women and children and the spiraling incidence of rape and abduction have sent women and children cowering in fear.The tears have barely dried on our cheeks that another gruesome murder rips us apart once more.

What are the forces behind all this? Many experts have focussed their attention on the issue of violence against women and children and are baffled by this phenomenon. What has triggered this spate of violence against our women and children? We are left to ponder and worry.

In the Jamaican society women are the pivotal force that keeps the family going. Women play the role of mother and father. They are the ones who shoulder the responsibilty and the burden of raising children left behind by careless and uncaring fathers.

Grandmothers women of great courage stand in the gap when mothers migrate or face severe difficulties.

Women are the backbones of small businesses that provide important services and  inject a great financial input in the economy.

In hospitals,clinics and other institutions that provide care it is again our women who make up the bulk of the staff employed to render such services.

In our schools ,again women out number men and are the ones who choose to impart knowledge to our children.                                                                                                                                                  

Looking at the role of women in the society one would think that our women would get the respect and the protection they need and deserve.  Instead, they are violated and brutally murdered together with our children.

This is a phenomenon that could have very serious politial repercussions. It  is a destabilising force that has put the government under great pressure to bring safety and peace in the society.The government ,the opposition, the church and many organisations have focussed their attention  on this crisis and have  been unable to find measures capable of stemming the flow of this heinous wave of murders, abductions and rapes.

When one looks at the statistics that state that 56 children and 122 women have been murdered to date, that 356cases of rape and 57 cases of abduction have taken place to date one cannot help but think of this society as being in a serious state of chaos.We cannot call this situation” a civil war” but we must admit that this is a state of affairs akin to civil war.The majority of the population is under siege, cringing in fear, prisonners of an unknown enenemy but none too real. The fences are being built higher, security guards are hired to protect sporting uniforms and dark glasses reminiscent of “tonton macoutes”;women are afraid to go about their daily activities and children are traumatised, their life disrupted, devoid of the stability and carefree elements of childhood.                                                                                                           

The government owes it to the nation to restore peace at all cost.Drastic measures should be taken to ensure the safety of all citizens.

In a previous article  dealing with the protection of our children I suggested a change in the law that would enforce parental responsibility and accountability.Parents are responsible for the safety and protection of their chidren not the government.The government takes care of children at risk who are in need of care and protection. Parents should provide a” safety zone” for their children.A” safety zone” could be a neighbour’s house, a baby sitter’s house, the house of a trusted church sister or a trusted relative. Should  parents fail to provide that” safety zone” then these parents would be deemed guilty of neglect and face the consequences should any harm befall their children.Too many children are left to roam the streets  exposed to all sorts of dangers and too often are victims of the predators who lurked in almost every community.                                                                                                                                         

 Children found loitering after school should be cautioned and later on apprehended if found on the streets again.Their parents should be found and made to face the consequences.The time has come for the government to form parents to be responsible for the safety and protection of their children.Parents who are found careless and irresponsible will have to attend parenting classes in order to understand their role as parents and learn what the society expects of them as parents.All sorts of “alert system ” are being put in place but the fact remains that the primary source of protection should be the parents or the guardians.Parents should learn to set boundaries for their children such a task is not the responsibility of the government. 

In this time of crisis I would suggest that a “children patrol”be instituted. Officers sensitised about matters and laws relating to children should be dispatched to patrol areas where children are seen loitering after school and during school hours. The shopping centers, the lanes, the street corners,the main transport areas,the bus stops in school areas where children and young people are seen loitering should be patrolled. These patrol cars with a totally different appearence from the regular police cars will signal to the children that help will be provided if it is needed and also will remind them that they ought not to be on the streets.These officers will be able to answer emergency calls pertaining to children and young people.When they are not in school children should be in the “safety zones” provided by their parents and certainly not on the streets.

Another measure that would provide extra security to our children is the removal from the school areas of all vendors. Very unfortunately some vendors are unscrupulous and sell drugs and pornographic materials to the students. “The good have to suffer for the bad”  so all vendors should be removed from the school environment.

All agencies that deal with young people whether in the fashion industry  or in social services should be scrutinised by the government . Many associations  in  communities all over the island use our children to commit serious forms of child abuse. The law should be very strict and not  allow such associations to flourish. Regular probing and observation of so called “ministry for children ” should take place and licences revoked where it is deemed necessary.

Finally every  constituency should have a centre where children and young people can go to do their homework and socialise under adult supervision. It will not be very difficult to find a woman and a mature man who could supervise the activities of children and young people.This provision would certainly keep our children and young people off the streets and teach them that there are boundaries to be respected.

I admit that these are very dark days both for our women and children but at the end of the dark days in the valley we as a people will see brighter days when the Jamaican society will experience once more peace and stability.God is able.

Rape and Incest

•October 30, 2008 • Leave a Comment

         The great increase in the incidence of rape and the pernicious scourge of incest now being reported have prompted me to write on the topic today.

Rape ,incest and sexual abuse have been the subject of numerous studies. Several experiments have taken place in an effort to find the best form of psychotherapy suited for the victims.Many treatment plans have been used and different approaches applied.The results have proven that the effects of rape and prolonged sexual abuse are irreversible. The scars  linger unto adulthood to haunt the victims.

In my years of caring for young victims of rape, incest  and sexual abuse in a foster care setting I have also come to the conclusion that the traumatic effects of rape, incest and sexual abuse are to a very great extent irreversible unless the victims have a powerful spiritual experience.

In the human spirit lies a restoring source of healing. In the spirit lies the source of a balm that soothes and restores the broken psyche of the victims.

In my work with the victims of rape and incest in particular I have very gently taken the children on the path of their spiritual journey.They were able to find their own innerstrength. They discovered in their spirit the source of a spiritual energy that they could use to recover from this traumatic experience,put their hurts in the sea of forgetfulness and forgive their abusers.

This poem that I wrote while I cared for girls victims of rape ,incest and sexual abuse is dedicated to girls and women who are victims of this most destructive form of abuse.

                                                        V I O L A T E D

The years of innocence

For ever left behind.

The years of silent tears

And unspoken hurts.

The safety nets of childhood

Broken, shattered

Had let in pains

That touched a tender heart,

A fragile soul,

A vulnerable mind

Too young to understand.

But life itself has its own balm.

A balm that heals.

It springs straight from within,

Restores,remoulds and strenghtens

The yielding spirit ready to soar once more.

.

New Mothers Of The World Blog Post 2106

•January 10, 2016 • Leave a Comment

As 2016 starts anew this blog will also be resuming. There are some new creative endeavours in the works including a book on my work setting up the Link home for girls in Kingston , Jamaica.The tentative title of the book will be ” When Angels Crossed My Path”.

I am also very happy to note that some international groups and authors have seen it pertinent to publish and present my writings in different formats.

The group IR Indigenous Resistance has created a 14 page illustrated booklet utilising my writings on the Armadale tragedy that took place in Jamaica.The booklet is beautifully illustrated by Brazilian designer Screen Shot 2016-01-10 at 4.44.19 AMn read

Dubdem .You can access it it via a free pdf file  available from this link
http://www.dubreality.com/podcasts/RadioFreeIR18-4Armadale.pdf

or you can access it though the podcasts created by the group

Also the book “From Street to Hope: Faith Based and Secular Programmes in Los Angeles, Mumbai and Nairobi for Street-living Children “by Neela Dabir and Naina Athale. Published by Sage Press ISBN-13: 978-8132105138 This book is available from Amazon.
The authors have used some of my poems in their book and I really appreciate them reaching out to all the way from India after they discovered my blog.

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The Loss of Innocence

•May 28, 2012 • Leave a Comment

The statistics on sexual abuse, sexual assault, rape and incest are a blatant proof of the lack of protection offered to our children.

Our children are not only raped, abused sexually their innocence is violated very often in a subtle way but more often than ever in a crude and forceful way.

The veil of innocence that shields the mind of our children is torn apart by the forceful imposition of sexual notions by the media, the entertainers whose lyrics are inappropriate and the producers of pornographic materials.Long before the mind of the children is ready for such notions they are forced to absorb them.

Sex is presented as a casual act with the emphasis being placed on self gratification without any consideration given to premature, inappropriate and unprotected sex. In the media, the songs and dances women are objectified.They are there to please the men who demand sex when ,and with whom they feel like.The notion of self gratification is uppermost in the mind of our children,our young people and unfortunately in unscrupulous adults.

Our children and young people display a shocking lack of self control and self respect and above all a profound lack of understanding of the consequences of their promiscuous behaviour.The “no panty Thursday”,sex on the bus, sex at the stadium, lesbian attacks in the schools, teenage pregnancies,illegal abortions, the rise in the incidence of sexually transmitted diseases are just a few of the backlashes of premature, inappropriate and deviant sexual activities.

How do we stop this destructive trend?The social norms and values have been shifted and this has left ou children open to abuse and exploitation. They are left without any guidelines and boundaries that would promote wholesome and normal behaviour. It is not too late to re impose the norms and values that will preserve the innocence and dignity of our children.Parents are to be taught parenting skills and must at all cost play their parental role responsibly.

Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller expressed the view that the full  force of the law will be applied to the perpretrators of sexual assualts, rapes and incest. The parents and guardians of the victims will also be punished if found guilty of negligence.This is indeed a step in the right direction,but I am urging the government to go further to the root of this evil trend.

The media, the entertainers whose lyrics are inapproriate, the producers of pornographic materials sould be stopped in their destructive work. The mind and innocence of our children must be protected at all costs.

Save the children ,save the nation.For every child we save is a man ,a woman of tomorrow we save.

NO MORE STREET BOYS NO MORE STREET CHILDREN

•May 5, 2012 • Leave a Comment

The month of May is set aside for us to reflect on our children, their needs, their achievements and their future. Let us focus for a moment on our   “children at risk.”

“Children at risk”  are children in need of care and protection . Their welfare and protection are the responsibility of the CDA by virtue of the power vested in them by the Child Care and Protection Act.

Children left to survive on their own on the streets are without the shadow of a doubt” children at risk”.They suffer the most horrific forms of psychological, emotional, physical and sexual abuse .They experience the pangs of hunger and the pains of untreated  illnesses. They present the most complex dysfunctional behavioral problems and need very special care and attention to be rehablitated.

These unfortunate children, thrown on the streets by very abusive and neglectful parents are allowed to remain on the streets by the very government agencies that should protect them. These children should be apprehended at once and offered the protection they deserve.Each case should be assessed on its  own merit and the appropriate placement   recommeded and implemented.

Their parents should be placed on a Court Order to participate in the rehabilitation of their children in order to receive them in the family fold.

At present , there is in Kingston the Possibility Program that caters for ” Street Boys “.The Possibility Program is administered by a private board and subsidised by the government.

This program very unfortunately is totally inadequate and certainly does not meet the needs of the boys. The mere fact that these children are grouped as  ” street boys ” and are kept in the mould of” street boys ” is detrimental to their self concept and their personal development.This program does not offer any change in the socialization of the boys.It does not in any way uproot them from the streets .The education offered to these children certainly does not prepare them to further their education and evolve beyond the level of casual workers.Most of these children leave the program functionally illiterate.Most of them do not have a skill and remain social misfits.In view of the fact that they do not fit in the family setting, they return to the streets; they hustle; join the gangs and form their own gangs facing a life of crime and helpnessness caught in the web of self destruction and poverty.

The time has come for the Minister of Youth to reassess this program and offer to these children a better future.

Drastic changes are needed in the approach taken in the provision of care and education of these children.A better understanding, and an awareness of who they are and what their  very special needs are, are some of the elements sadly lacking in this program.

THERE  SHOULD  BE  NO  STREET  BOYS, NO  STREET  CHILDREN.

We must at all costs remove from these children’s  psyche the   “street boy”  brand  and allow them to internalize the notion  that they are our children worthy of our love respect and care.We must pour in their spirit the balm  of unconditional love and respect.  We must instill in them the notion that they too can participate in the great task of nation building. In law , these children are entitled to a sound education.We must therefore offer them an education that will lift them up out of the quagmire of helplessness, hopelessness and poverty.

We must not call them” street boys” and “street children”.We must realise that this stigma is painful, denigratory and destructive.No child at risk should be treated in a manner that compounds his/her  pain and misery.Labelling them “street boys”  is certainly relegating them to the lowest level in  the society.

It is imperative that the Possibility Program be restructured an transformed into a service that restores and educates our children instead of exposing them to a form of abuse more pernicious and destructive than the abuse they suffer on the streets.

The time has come for drastic meaningful changes.  The problems facing our” children at risk” can be remedied.Let us  review our attitudes and our perception of who these children are.

No more patronizing gift of a T shirt;no more handouts of a few dollars when they beg at street corners; no more treats at Xmas while they are  dressed in  their” street boy”  cloak; no more fundraising activities on their behalf while they remain the “street boys” windscreen cleaners .

The time has come for us as a people to set aside our prejudices and our indifference and demand better social programs for  children and young people” at risk”.

The time has come to invest in humanity and create a safety net for our children at risk.

NO  MORE  STREET  BOYS  NO MORE STREET CHILDREN FOR A BETTER JAMAICA

Windshield Cleaners, Street Boys, Rich Boys,Children of the Same Father

•September 20, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Windshield cleaners, street boys and rich boys are all children of the same Father.He created them all and blew the breath of life in each and everyone of them.This is the sacred principle on which our very existence is based,but the realities of our society defy this principle and the democratic principles of liberty,equality and justice .Thus the social phenomenon of the windshield cleaners.

The windshield cleaners form two groups: the ” street boys” who are under the age of 18  and are in law considered children ,and the adults. These “street boys windshield cleaners” are children “at risk” and are in need of care and protection because they are neglected ,abused, abandoned , deprived of a stable life in a nurturing environment and above all deprived of an education that would render them productive members of the society.These” street boys windshield cleaners “suffer the most horrendous forms of emotional, psychological and sexual abuse.They are also the pawns in the hands of the hard core criminals who prey on their vulnerability. 

In law, these children are entitled to care and protection as prescribed by the Charter of Rights of the Child and supported by the Child Care and Protection Act of Jamaica.

To suggest that these children be given a T-shirt and some form of training to become better windshield cleaners shows a profound lack of respect for their rights as children of the land.

Is this a deliberate effort to keep them in the social mould where poverty has unfortunately placed them?Why the condescending and patronising offer of a T-shirt and some form of training that in essence serves to keep them down in their dysfunctional lifestyle? This solution is reminiscent of the attitude of the colonial masters towards their subjects. Give them a T-shirt, a few dollars, a treat at Christmas as long as they remain subserviant  and illiterate. This way, their services will always be available.They will never have the means to get out of their social condition and will continue to live clutched in the grip of poverty and hopelessness their rights as Jamaican children having been so recklessly trampled upon.Windshield cleaners today, beggars,drug pushers,gang members,dons in the garrisons tomorrow ,the cycle continues…

As children “at risk”they should have been apprehended by the C.D.A. Their cases should have been taken to court and above all their parents found and made to face their parental responsibilities.The C.D.A , the agency mandated to provide care and protection to children in need of care and protection did not face its responsibilities.The lack of residential facilities ,of staff and funds have ,over the years, hindered effective provisions for children at risk.

The Children’s Advocate responsible for the protection of the rights of all our children obviously did not apply enough pressure for the relevant authorities to take action on behalf of these children.

This revolting lack of interest in the welfare of our children” at risk” is the root cause of the arrest of the windshield cleaners.The windshield cleaners as children of the land have rights that should have been respected, at all cost,but alas this did not happen.The years have gone by and the “street boys windshield cleaners” are now “adult windshield cleaners”.Their dysfunctional childhood and teenage years have made of them criminals in some cases ,beggars and hustlers.Facing the responsibilities of “baby fathers” without any skill nor the upbringing to play the role they are now the dangerous ,utterly frustrated hustlers found at our street corners.Their behaviour is dangerous and unacceptable.Their removal by the police was necessary and inevitable.

The big question facing them and us as a people is what is the government doing to bring about meaningful changes in their lives.Has the Ministry of Youth formulated any programs that would offer literacy and skill training to these young men?Will the C.D.A apprehend the children ?will we as a people uproot our social prejudices and learn to respect all the children of this land as our children and put into practice the pricinples of true equality , fraternity and brotherhood.

Let us remember that from the smallest village to the biggest mansion each child is a link in the big chain that represents the Jamaican society.The strength of this chain lies in the strength of each link.Each one take one for a better Jamaica for a better world. The time is now.

The Plight of Our Young Men

•September 11, 2010 • Leave a Comment

The incursion in Tivoli Gardens has opened wide for the whole world to see the putrid social cancer that we all face in Jamaica at this time of our history.

Social prejudices, class stratification, endemic political corruption,corruption in all areas of bussiness,an educational system that needs restructuring in order to suit the needs of our children,a revolting  lack of adequate and suitable social programs for children and young people “at risk “are all part of the fabric of Tivoli and all the other garrisons that now play havoc with Jamaica’s stability.

Some of the victims of this destabilising force are our young men.During the incursion they came from all corners of the island to participate in” the war”.Attracted by the prospects of making a “quick money” they were all prepared to risk their lives. One wonders if the total lack of hope in their empty lives prompted them to accept such an offer or if the wish to vent their own anger and frustration drove them to Tivoli and the other troubled areas.One thing that is absolutely certain is that had these young men been prepared to face the work force and  had they acquired an education and skills that could sustain them they would not have ventured into  the war zones and would not be ,today, begging at street corners displaying their dysfunctional aggressive behaviour, hustling to make a penny. During the incursion,truck loads of young men were taken to the National Arena and other detention centers. Once released, they again faced a life of hopelessness,a life of drug abuse, crime and self destruction.

The government’s failure to prepare these young men enabled the dons to prey on their vulnerability and use them to do the criminal acts that we are fighting against today.Some of these young men ,victims of  our own social crimes and political neglect started as street boys.To date ,there has been very little done to stem the flow of neglected and abused street boys at our street corners in Kingston as well as other large cities.

The endemic neglect of children “at risk” constitutes the seeds of delinquency and criminality bearing fruit today.

In the case of the windshield cleaners the police had no choice but to protect the public and remove them from the street corners.Their behaviour was totally unacceptable and quite dangerous at times.

Looking into the background of these young men one would realise that they have never been nurtured and cared for in a stable environment;they have never been loved; they have never been respected and have never been taught to respect others; their rights have been trampled upon so they now trample on the rights of others. Deprived of an education and of any sustainable skills they are left to survive by any means they can possibly reach.

What has the Ministry of Youth done for our young men at risk? What programs have been put in place to redirect their path in life?what has the Ministry of Youth done re the Possibility Program for street boys?The public is entitled to know what is being done for our young people.

The time has come for us as a people to set aside our prejudices and our indifference and demand better social programs for children and young people” at risk”and above all to participate in their implementation. The time has come to invest in humanity and create a safety net for our children”at risk”This is the only way we will be spared the pain of seeing our youg men arrested  and condemned to a life of hopelessness,helplessness,crime and self destruction. The time is now!!! Remember: Each child we save is a man or a woman of tomorrow we save. Each one take one for a better Jamaica ,for a better world.

WHERE IS MY DAD ?….

•March 5, 2010 • Leave a Comment

This is a cursary view of the very complex problems that enter into the fabric of the role of fathers in the life of their children.

Where is my dad?…

This question so often asked by children raised by a single mother bears a very heavy load of pain, anguish ,anxieties and mixed emotions.

These pains ,anxieties and emotions are rarely expressed in a manner that would elicit their true depth and impact on the mind of the affected children.

Too often mother who is carrying the burden of raising the child alone also carries an unhealthy baggage of anger and resentment towards the absent father. This creates an obstacle to the free expression of the child’s emotions and pain.

Where is my dad? who is my dad?…

There is in every human being the need to identify and know the other part of his/her being that is missing.

Psychologically the” missing part” plays havoc with the child ‘s sense of identity and stability.There is a natural longing to know and identify with that person.Unfortunately, the adults who together brought this child into the world too often do not settle their differences in a healthy manner. Accusations and blame throwing,violence and abusive behaviour towards each other weave the web in which the innocent child is caught.

In the development of a child a father plays a special role and brings in emotional and psychological elements that mother cannot offer. Unfortunately , the child who misses these vital elements is the victim who suffers silently and develops behavioural problems too often misunderstood.Mother bent on demonising the father does not realise the depth of the harm she is inflicting on the child.

Father on the other hand having rejected mother also rejects the child again victimising the child.His absence creates an uneasy sense  of loss and a longing that quite a few children find hard to bear. 

A  very serious situation arises however, when efforts are made to bring father into the life of the child. Father does not fit in.He is often demanding, harsh and somewhat uncaring towards the child that he identifies with mother.Again the child is the victim.

Another disturbing facet of this very complex situation is seen when father wants to exercise his rights to parent and care for his child. Mother blinded by her anger and her own sense of rejection finds herself in a vengeful mode.Unfounded, hurtful fabrications of abuse physical and sexual often are the path taken by the angry mother.She stops at nothing to demonise and keep father away. Her selfish motive is simply to destroy the man who no longer wants her. She sets aside her maternal need to care for and nurture  the child so bent is she in destroying the man she can no longer have. She goes as far as coaching the child to lie in order to continue her vendetta against father. Very sadly , in view of the fact that women are believed to be more caring than men father has a hard time convincing the authorities that he is innocent and simply wants to be a father to the child.

Mother’s cruelty knows no bound. The very child she claims to love becomes the pawn that she uses in her deadly game against father. The emotional scars born by the child are immeasurable.Useless to say that this situation creates a tremendous turmoil in the child’s mind.

In a girl,the game of manipulation and reckless selfishness played by mother stays with her.She herself becomes manipulative, selfish , demanding and lies to get her own way.She becomes a very troubled child who later on will have great difficulties establishing stable relationships with men.

In a boy’s mind there is anger towards women in view of the abuse meted out to his dad.He too observes and learns about the manipulations , lies and selfishnes. He might even get angry with his dad if he does not understand why he gets his mother so very upset and mean.This creates even more confusion in the child’s mind.This, he will carry into adulthood.

The importance of a father’s role in the life of  his children should never be underestimated and should be at all cost respected.The time has come for parents to realise that children should not become the victims of their broken relationship. They should realise that they both have a sacred responsibility to care and nurture their children sparing them the pain and emotional scars their conflicts  inflict on the very children that they both brought into this world.  Adults must reconsider their position and bring changes in the way they manage their relationsip.SPARE THE CHILDREN.THE TIME IS NOW!!!!

ARMADALE AND THE PLIGHT OF OUR CHILDREN “IN CARE”

•February 25, 2010 • Leave a Comment

The headlines are arresting: ” Confined to hell”, “Shattered Souls” ” Jailed Children Suffer in Mobay”Armadale Report Brutal”,”Children in Horizon Remand Centre”,”Children living in Hell”.

The words stir our emotions, a disturbing mixture of anger, sadness, pity and revolt,but unfortunately they do not drive us to action. Is it an apathetic reaction to a situation that has become so putrid, so endemic that our psyche has learnt over the years to set it aside and continue with life?…

The plight of our children “in care” goes deeper than the lack of space in the Places of Safety, the lack of children’s homes, the lack of foster care parents not to mention the endemic incompetence of the authorities in charge of their welfare.

It is a very insidious social cancer. It stems from the social prejudices so very deeply embedded in our social consciousness that we have placed the children “in care” in a class of their own and we simply do not care about their welfare and their rights.

There is also the lack of political will to effect changes and put money at the disposal of the hurting children of the land.Children are the voiceless beings in the political arena. They are the ones without a vote. They do not have any pull in the political fight for power.They are the children of the masses:”poor pickney”, “ghetto pickney”,inner city pickney” black pickney “BAD PICKNEY” .They are treated without respect, tenderness,understanding  and love. They are psychologically abused by the mere fact that they are so brutally rejected. Deprived of an education they are set in a mould of misfits to become later on the unemployable.Their numbers will swell the ranks of the downtrodden ,the innercity people the marginalised of the society.

The C.D.A the agency responsible for the care and protection of children “in care”has become grossly ineffective.For years there has been absolutely no change in the archaic methods of placement, the assessment of children prior to placement and during placement, the preparation of parents to better parent their children and face their parental responsibilities,and above all, any constructive changes in the administration of the institutions under its supervision.

Very sadly the head of the C.D.A. Mrs Anderson McLean says that she has made representations at different levels, but these representations bore no fruits.Obviously , she did not have the will nor the determination to pursue the issues in order to effect the changes that would have alleviated the pain and suffering of the children placed in her care.

The overcrowded Places of Safety are palpable proof of the lack of vision, understanding and initiative at the head of the machinery that sets things in motion. The method of placement that has for decades placed children in situations much more destructive than the one they left behind shows a total lack of sensitivity to the needs of the children. The fact that so many of the children” in care” end up in a psychiatric ward is again  a palpable proof that the conditions and treatment are traumatic and harmful.

The enquiry into the Armadale Tragedy gave us a glimpse of the horror chambers where the children “in care” are  housed.The treatment meted out to the children was simply inhumane and in breach of the United Nation’s Convention
 on the Rights of the Child and the Child Care and Protection Act.They live in what I call a “Jamaican Stalag”.This points to a profound lack of respect for the children of the land.The head of the Correctional Services’actions and inactions in the Armadale tragedy have proven once more that the reckless manner in which the children are treated shows how they are perceived. They are the” bad pickney dem” who need serious chastising and” handling”.Tear gas and prolonged “lock down”  are the form of punishment that will make them behave.They are not worthy of respect,  love, counselling and care.In contrast we should take a look at the boarding school facilities for middle class and upper middle class children . Has one ever heard of mass abuse of these children? How much would it cost us to establish similar facilities for our children “in care”? Again the matter of the wrong perception of children “in care” comes into play.

The Child’s Advocate has been as apathetic in the performance of her duties as the head of the C.D.A and the head of the Correctional Services. Her sugar coated report to Parliament certainly did not reveal the conditions exposed by Manfred Nowak from the United Nation’s Development Program. In her role of protector of children’s rights she has failed to approach her work with determination,decisiveness and effectiveness.In the Armadale tragedy her nonchalent performance contributed to the suffering and pain of the girls. Had she been to Armadale ,she would have seen first hand the conditions under which the girls were living. Instead, she took the easy path and simply wrote a report on the over crowded conditions at the  institution.This spells out sheer incompetence.

The time for drastic changes is now.Our children need the protection of the law and the care of the authorities in charge of their welfare.The time has come to weed out of the system the incompetent and ineffective workers from the highest level to the lowest.The time has come to establish an efficient machinery that will oversee the services offered to our children.Let us look at the statistics in the areas of missing children, raped children, victims of incests and victims of murder and let us invest in humanity and do something for our children.THE TIME IS NOW.

The centralisation of children’s affairs should be a priority. As it stands the fragmentation of the system that oversees the care ,protection and education of children “in care” creates crucial problems that have become endemic and are adversely affecting the welfare of the children thus the Armadale tragedy.There should be a MINISTRY OF CHILDREN’S AFFAIRS with a minister who will present a proper budget for the affairs of children and be accountable for the effective and sound management of all the  institutions and services under its portfolio.

The present method of placement should be radically changed and the laws enforcing parental responsibilities applied.Parents need to feel the weight of the laws that deal with neglect and abuse of children.The Prime Minister’s warning to careless and abusive parents is badly needed at this stage in order to stem the flow of children into the system.Getting children into care is not the answer. Enforcing parental responsibilities and establishing non residential protection of children at risk should be part of the solution. 

Children who are victims of rape ,incest and sexual abuse should be placed in an “Emergency Treatment Home” with caregivers who are trained to understand their particular situation.

Children coming from a broken home should be placed in a “Group Foster Home” for a limited period of time.There in a substitute family setting they will be raised in an environment much more nurturing than what is offered in the Places of Safety.They will attend school and will not be deprived of an academic education.Under a court order  parents should attend parenting classes in order to better parent their children on their return home.Such placements are temporary placements and require full parental participation in order to ensure that the children will return into the family fold.

Children with very dysfunctional behavioral problems should be placed in ” Specialised Group Homes” where the ratio of children to staff is such that due care and attention can be paid to the children in order to effect lasting rehabilitation. The parents should be compelled by a court order to participate in the rehabilitation process of their children and be prepared to take them back into the family fold.Children with severe behavioral problems do not belong in adult correctional facilities and certainly not in facilities where they are treated like had core criminals.

At this time of our history,unfortunatley, our children” in care “are treated like the rejects of society. Their human rights are blatantly violated by the very people in authority who should offer them care and protection when their parents fail to do so.The psychological impact of life in an overcrowded, dehumanising environment stays with the children for ever. In essence the children are psychologically maimed and their development tragically stunted.Deprived of love ,respect and tender care they are thrown into a mode of helplessness and hopelessness unable to attain their full potential as human beings.This must change and the time is now.

To conclude I would like to say once more that for every child we save now is a man or a woman of tomorrow we save. Each one take one for a better Jamaica and a better world.