Tuesday 21 May, 2019

After another girl murdered, Blaine says leaders are failing children

Betty Ann Blaine

Betty Ann Blaine

Jamaican leaders, past and present, have failed to protect the nation’s children, according to convenor of Hear the Children’s Cry lobby group, Betty Ann Blaine .

Blaine made the assertion in a news release on Sunday as she reacted to news of the horrific murder of 14-year-old Raven Wilson of Top Road, St Ann’s Bay. Wilson was reported missing on Friday. Her body, with her throat slashed, was found stuffed in a garbage bag in her community on Sunday sending shockwaves throughout the country.

In her statement, Blaine noted that Raven is the third 14-year-old girl to be brutally murdered in the country in less two months. Her killing follows the gruesome killings of Shanoya Wray and Yetanya Francis.

Raven Wilson

Blaine pointed out that Raven’s killing is “raising well justified alarm among Jamaican families and those who care about them.”

“This does not seem to include the country’s leaders, past or present,” she added.

In fact, Blaine has asserted that the leaders "deserve an emphatic failing grade when it comes to our children." 

According to her, nearly 40 children have already been murdered in Jamaica this year. She said this is “double the usual gruesome annual statistic!”

“The truth is, children in Jamaica are at terrible peril, and are at the mercy of vicious criminals on a daily basis. They are not safe in their homes; they are not safe at school, they are in danger in their communities and on the roads, they are at horrible risk on public transportation, not to mention being vulnerable targets of pedophiles when they are online,” said Blaine.

As she has done previously, the children’s advocate took aim at Prime Minister Andrew Holness for what she perceives to be his inaction in dealing with the problem.

Kingston Technical High School administrators place a framed photo of the Yetanya Francis inside the Wildman Street Pentecostal Tabernacle as the school held a remembrance service for its late student in September.

She said: “For two years now, Hear The Children’s Cry has been asking Prime Minister Andrew Holness to convene an Emergency Child Summit to take practical steps to protect the nation’s children and safeguard their lives. After meeting with me, the Prime Minister asked us to prepare a detailed proposal outlining objectives and format of the summit, which would call together all stakeholders to enact urgent solutions. The proposal was submitted to the Office of the Prime Minister in 2017, and yet month after month has gone by, with no word from the country’s leader, despite our repeated calls for action from him.”

“Why is it so difficult for the Prime Minister to bring stakeholders together around the table to save precious lives? Indeed, why has it been so difficult for this and previous administrations to take effective action to protect – really protect – Jamaica’s children?” Blaine asked rhetorically.

And she said it was just as worrying that law enforcement agencies appear incapable of finding and punishing the perpetrators of these horrible child murders.

Added Blaine: “We cannot hear of any meaningful level of progress in this area. For example, Ananda Dean, the murdered 11-year-old after whom we named the Ananda Alert early response system, was abducted and killed nine years ago, and no one has ever been arrested or charged for that heinous crime.

“What is happening in this country is even more shocking because so many of these child victims are being abducted and lured to their deaths in public places, and in some instances their cries for help are ignored. This is one of the most disgraceful crises, one that Jamaica must bring to an end. What I find so heartbreaking, is that in recent times, not one single, meaningful practical action has been implemented by successive government administrations to improve child safety in this country, aside from the Ananda Alert, which is not working at optimum level.”

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