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"Who should be held accountable for children?"
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"Who should be held accountable for children?"

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Advira ShandSociety is horrified by crime against children, writes Advira Shand, 24, a Correspondent from Manchester in Jamaica, as she examines how families and the state have failed to protect the vulnerable.

Horror and disbelief gripped the Jamaican populace in early 2015 when it was furnished with news that a fourteen year old teenager was found decapitated in St. Thomas.

Subsequent reports concerning the slaying of the teenager revealed that she was pregnant and that police were investigating her uncle in relation to the incident. While still reeling from that incident, Jamaica was brought to its knees when news surfaced that an eight year old girl was murdered along with three adults in another section of the island.

This led to an upsurge of calls from the public for answers from state-owned agencies responsible for the protection and care of the nations’ children, as well as from the security force. However, lavish discourses that emanated from these bodies and the security force were not able to quench my thirst for information regarding who should be held accountable for these heinous crimes against these innocent children.

Has the ‘family’ forfeited its role in caring for our children and furnishing them with the appropriate values? With the exponential increase in the levels of violence meted out to children, it is quite evident that Caribbean families have become negligent in carrying out their roles. Families are in such a state of disrepair that adult members are often times perpetrators in abuse against children or younger members in their care. Parents have entered into ‘businesses’ that facilitate the victimization of their offspring and grandparents have started to turn a blind eye to incestuous relations between their children and small, defenseless grandchildren.

Has the state become inept at reducing crimes against children and deterring perpetrators of crimes against children? State agencies responsible for providing support to and protection for youths have become over-burdened, inefficient and are gravely under-funded, which has made them ineffective in providing assistance to youths. There have been unwelcome delays in the enactment of harsher punishments for perpetrators who target children. In addition, salient agents of socialization within the society, such as churches and schools, are apparently slacking off in their duties and responsibility to youths.

We are confronted with an era where our children are dying and suffering every day because they have been failed immensely by the individuals and entities that are supposed to guide and protect them. Children are being forced to forfeit their childhood as they have to deal with a plethora of unwelcome issues: neglect, physical and sexual abuse, and abandonment. As occupants of a region held hostage by this unfortunate situation, we need to unite our efforts in curtailing abuse against our children.

Youths are our future, so we need to ‘protect’ and ‘preserve’ them.

photo credit: Boys play on Dili beach via photopin (license)
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About me:

It is my desire to inspire growth among youths and within the region I inhabit. I have a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations and serve as a Managing Partner at WAGS Construction. It is my intention to undertake graduate studies that will help me in my quest to occupy a position within my country where I can assist in crafting policies that will fuel development within developing states.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?

To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit:
http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/commonwealthcorrespondents/

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Advira Shand (2015)

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