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Dunn: Train parents and don’t take away children

Published:Thursday | April 25, 2019 | 12:22 AMAlbert Ferguson/Gleaner Writer
Dr Leith Dunn
Dr Leith Dunn


Dr Leith Dunn, senior lecturer and head of the Institute of Gender and Development Studies at The University of the West Indies, Mona, says she is not in support of the recommendation that parents who abuse or abandon their children should lose their parental rights.

Alando Terrelonge, state minister in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, recently said that after nine months of abuse or abandonment, parents should lose their parental rights to their children.

However, Dunn said she would prefer if the biological parents were provided with counselling and training so that they could better understand their role and then reunite with their children and those in state care be placed in new family units.

“I wouldn’t want to support that,” Dunn told The Gleaner, reacting to the junior minister’s position. “I would want us to understand and do a lot more formal training of our parents to have them, first of all, to understand their responsibility, but also not [to] have children unless they are willing to accept the responsibility of that.”

Speaking at a recent parenting conference in Montego Bay, Terrelonge said he was pushing for a situation where parents who abandon their children should lose them to adoption.

“Nine months to carry them and nine months to lose them,” the state minister told the gathering.

“The minute you start to abuse those children, the minute you neglect them, that is the very same day that you have abandoned your parental rights, and it is time that we address that as a society.

“I have already made the recommendation that no child that has been abandoned, neglected, or treated less than a human being by any parent should be kept in state facilities for more than nine to 12 months. It is not fair to the children,” said Terrelonge.

He also urged Rosalee Gage-Grey, CEO of the Child Protection and Family Services Agency, to seek court approval to expedite the country’s adoption process to make it easier for families to adopt children who have been abandoned and left in state-care facilities and children’s homes.