- by Gabriela Radeva -
The end of the fiscal year 2013/14 marks the beginning of new challenging times ahead for the Jamaican Government, who were already faced with a whopping 40% increase in child sexual abuse in the country last year. These striking statistics were evaluated by the 1,968 cases reported in the first six months of 2013 in comparison to 1,402 for the respective period, in 2012. Further reports by the Office of the Children’s Registry (OCR) showed that 1,546 children had been subjected to physical neglect, inadequate food, clothing and lodging; inadequate medical care; inadequate supervision and abandonment and 1,284 children had been subjected to educational neglect.
Minister of Finance and Planning Dr Peter Phillips held the 2014/15 Estimates of Expenditure in the ‘House of Representatives’, where a budget of $557.7 billion was decided upon on April 21. This is to be divided amongst the main ministries of government and their subsidiary agencies, who intend to spend it on economic, social and cultural matters.However the latest reports concerning child abuse require extra care by the Government on, what the Minister of Youth and Culture Lisa Hanna called, a ‘national crisis’.
Hanna also said the following: “The Ministry of Youth and Culture [and] all its agencies charged with providing services to the nation’s children are deeply troubled by the acts of depravity which continue to be committed against our children in their homes and communities and the severe psychological trauma they are suffering as a direct result of the violation of their rights,”. Despite detecting the roots of the problem in the domestic environment within the Jamaican parenthood, her reference to it as a ‘national crisis’ automatically calls for Government efforts to keep crime under control and human rights protected. She also insisted that neglectful parents must be held accountable through a strengthened ‘Child Care and Protection’ Act.
Campaigning across Jamaica, Hanna has conducted a number of informative workshops, aiming to educate Jamaican parents of the risks and dangers existing in the community. Meanwhile, governmental institutions are aiming to improve legal action for lack of parental responsibility when it comes to the safety and security of their children. The Government should increase its expenses in tackling problems relating to national security, before any plans for investments in youth education and employability are made.
Hanna also told reporters: “The law is currently under review and recommendations have been made to allow the court to apply a range of sanctions for parental neglect, including parenting classes, counselling, mediation and other stronger measures”.