Child Abuse and Murder Epidemic Must Be Stopped - Johnson Smith
Opposition Spokesman on Education and Youth Senator Kamina Johnson Smith is once again calling on the government to move quickly to deal with the issues of child abuse in the society.
Her call comes after another incident where a child has been murdered in what is alleged to have been the result of a relationship with an adult: "How many children will it take to be murdered in similar circumstances before the government will present a plan to address what is clearly a national crisis."
Senator Johnson Smith is of the view that the current situation is at crisis levels and the Ministers of Youth and National Security, with whatever support they need from the Ministries of Education, Health and Social Security, need to solve it: "We have laws that deal with the protection of our children and yet we have so many cases of child murders stemming from sexual abuse. While they need strengthening, it is clear that communities are not playing the role of protectors and are not telling the police what they know. We need to change that and the Ministers of Youth and National Security have large roles to play in that regard".
The Opposition Senator is adamant that the time for press releases of condolence is over as only strong and consistent action is needed: "I would suggest as a start that the Police be ordered to be more aggressive is dealing with suspected cases of child abuse – both sexual and physical. There needs to be a zero tolerance approach as it is clear that society’s tolerance of adult/ child relationships is part of the problem. We need to start chopping away at that cultural attitude. I also suggest a national education campaign that apart from radio, actually goes into the communities on the ground, starting with those that the data shows are most affected, to sensitize people on the seriousness of these crimes against our children and how they can play a role in bringing a stop to it. It would also be good for the 1888 PROTECT hotline to be advertised more, as well as the numbers for which you don’t need credit to call, and for children to be sensitized to use it themselves as well. With strong penalties for its misuse. Maybe we also need to give rewards to persons who report child abuse."
Johnson Smith says these are just a few immediate things that can be done but a more robust and long-term plan is needed to educate our people about how to treat children and teach our men that young girls are not receptacles for their sexual desires.