Jamaicans of all ranks are mourning the plight of the nation's children. The figures show that nearly 60 children have been killed since the start of January 2008. A recent spate of child slayings has raised this issue to the forefront of the nation's awareness.
The community anguish that arose at last week's discovery of the body of a missing eleven year old, Ananda Dean, echoed throughout the country as parents were reminded of the level of vigilance needed to keep their children safe. However, as Jamaican blogger Stunner points out, it will require the contribution of all sectors of society to protect the children. He says,
But parents can't be with their children all the time and all the preparation an teaching a parent does is not a guarantee that the child will be safe. The police have to play a part, the school has to play a part, the government has to make the necessary legislative changes and enforce through the law, and society has to also look out for our children.
[…]next collective gasp in the wake of yet another unspeakable atrocity.
Unfortunately, that gasp came sooner than expected when news broke of the kind of crime no society dreams could be committed by one of their own. Jamaicans awoke on Wednesday morning, jarred out of their perrenial slumber by the story of a nine-month old infant perishing after being molested and sodomized by a family member while it's mother was in jail.
The shame and outrage at the savagery and heartlessness now rampant in Jamaican society is being decried at all levels. Ordinary citizens, politicians and organizations dealing with children's rights are calling out for something to be done.
The biggest concern, besides the actual victims of these horrendous crimes, is the effect of this environment on those children who have to stand by and watch as their safety and peace of mind is eroded before they even reach puberty. As another Abeng News article put it,
When children witness adults engaging in vigilante justice where thieves are hanged in the streets, hacked to pieces and torched, what innocence is expected to remain with them? When reprisal killings become the norm, how are the young expected to resolve differences, as adults in the community commend each other when murder settles a conflict, and threats are issued for the next round to ensure the cycle of violence never ends? And where should these juveniles — who oftentimes become parents in their early teens — learn parenting skills when at least one parent, the father in most cases, is missing from their lives?
Jamaica is searching for solutions to stem the bloodletting before it corrupts their society irreparably. With it's shame brought to light, Jamaicans may have found a common goal even as they prepare to celebrate some of their athletes’ recent accomplishments in the Beijing Olympics.