Clergyman urges greater advocacy from service clubs for child protection
GLAZETER LESLIE, a senior clergy member of the Wesleyan Methodist Church in Westmoreland, wants the leadership of service clubs in Jamaica to do more to protect and shield children from predators, and other forms of abuse being meted out to them.
More than 300 cases of sexual abuse, physical abuse and child neglect were investigated by the Office of the Children’s Registry in 2022. Most of those investigations took place in Kingston, St Andrew and St Catherine, an increase over those reported the previous year.
The data provided by the OCA showed that ‘neglect of duty’ accounted for 117 of the cases investigated, making it the largest category reported to the agency. Outside of child neglect, physical abuse accounted for 97, or 31 per cent of the cases, the state agency investigated last year.
Along with those, there were approximately 400 cases involving children who are before the courts in criminal matters, for which the OCA’s legal department provided representation last year, including civil matters, as well as custody and guardianship applications.
In less than 40 days into 2023, the assault on the nation’s children continues, the latest attack committed on Thursday, February 2, against nine-year-old Nikita Noel, a resident of Kew in Hanover and a student of Esher Primary School in that parish, who was raped and murdered near her home, allegedly by a man who at different times reportedly shared an intimate relationship with Nikita’s mother.
Leslie, who is also a businessman, noted that while he does not presume to have the answers to Jamaica’s problems, the time has come for service clubs such as the Rotary Club of Savanna-la-Mar “to increase its advocacy for rights, truth and fair play in this country”. The Rotary club’s global motto is ‘service above self’.
“In particular ... some of the areas could include the general abuse, mistreatment and neglect of some of our children in both the private and public sectors, children in foster homes and care centres,” said Leslie.
The New Discoveries Preschool and Daycare, based in Mount Salem, St James, was ordered closed by the Ministry of Education last month, following the beating of a three-year-old infant by a caregiver.
A video with the beating went viral on social media. The child seen in the video was beaten with a ruler in a bathroom.
“There are real troubled children in some of these communities and they are usually sent to the place of safety for young people, but the sad thing is when they go to a lot of these places, a lot of them are abused, and society keeps a closed lip on the matter,” Leslie explained.
“This is one of the areas I believe Rotary needs to step up and step on and start to be a real advocate for this sort of disenfranchised individual,” he added.