|Protect the youth from sexual abuse|
|Thursday, 12 April 2012 13:51|
In Jamaica, there has been a seething, despicable mess of sexual abuse against children, too often committed within families and communities where people are reluctant to make reports for fear of reprisal.
What sort of moral degradation motivates adults to sexually abuse a child? What kind of family member wantonly sexually abuses a child within the home, and steps out in the community the next day, holding their head high? And most importantly, how can these perpetrators be caught and prosecuted if society remains silent?
The rate of sexual abuse against children in Jamaica shows no signs of decline. Just last week, the Office of the Children's Registry reported that at least 7,245 children were sexually assaulted over the last four years.
Also, hand in hand with the issue of child abuse is the growing rate of child trafficking. Almost daily the Jamaican media publishes "Ananda Alerts" of missing teens, mostly girls averaging age15. Some of these teens simply leave home on errands and go missing.
Again the kidnapping and trafficking of children is shrouded in silence. It is astonishing that despite the frequency of the reports of missing teens, there is little evidence of a related national outcry. The news hardly report if these teens are found. If they have not been found, what is happening? Are they being drafted into forced prostitution? Are they being forced into child trafficking? The frequency of these missing teens does not seem normal, and begs serious investigation by Jamaican authorities.
Towards a solution
Earlier this year, the Ministry of National Security announced that through the launch of the National Task Force against Trafficking in Persons, there was an increase in the rescuing of victims of human trafficking. It is hoped that the work of this agency intensifies to assure more teens are not being kidnapped.
In addition, the Leader of the Opposition Andrew Holness and Prime Minister Simpson Miller has spoken out against the situation. The prime minister has promised that stronger laws will be enforced to deal with these abuses.
These laws, and the related punishment, cannot be too harsh. Although Jamaica currently enforces the Sexual Offences Act of 2009, sometimes the act is ineffective because of the failure of witnesses fearing to report crimes. Therefore, the new laws must be as harsh against the perpetuators, as against those who knowingly refuse to report them.
In addition to the legal and policing power of the government, it is important that every community, every sector, including the Diaspora, collaborate in whatever way possible to protect the nation's youth from abuse.
The youth are our future. What sort of future will there be if these children are being abused sexually, physically and damaged psychologically by those who are supposed to protect and care for them?