Wed | Aug 16, 2017

Michael Abrahams | Fighting for our children

Published:Monday | November 7, 2016 | 11:34 AMMichael Abrahams
Abrahams

Our children are under attack. They are being preyed on for their money, their possessions, sex and revenge. Many also become collateral damage, simply by being at the wrong place at the wrong time. And we sit and watch.


We read about these incidents, hear about them in newscasts, see weeping mothers on prime-time news, and are bombarded with disturbing photographs and videos in social media.

We discuss the situation on our verandas and in our living rooms, we protest, we march, we write letters to newspapers, we express our disgust on talk radio, and we wake up the next morning only to hear that an even more heinous and brazen lethal act has been perpetrated against a child.

While we talk, our children are being neglected, abandoned, verbally and emotionally abused, beaten, strangled, stabbed, chopped, decapitated, shot, burnt, raped and sodomised. When we talk, the perpetrators of these acts do not hear, or hear our voices in the distance, but are in no way deterred.

It is, therefore, clear that talking, writing, gathering and marching alone will not stop the epidemic of violence against our children. We are now faced with a most sobering fact: Unless we are willing to be inconvenienced, and put our own lives at risk, our children will continue to be traumatised and slaughtered.

It is time for us all to emerge from the safety of our dwellings and fight for our children. It is illogical to complain about a broken justice system while refusing to be enumerated, so that we will not be called for jury duty, or to request sick leave when asked to be a juror.

It is hypocritical to demand justice, and not come forward after witnessing a crime, or possessing information about a case that would be helpful to law-enforcement personnel.

To be fair, our fear is justified. A corrupt system and psychopathic and sociopathic criminals, along with our ‘informer-fi-dead’ culture, are deterrents to compliance with our security forces. But every time a child is attacked and the perpetrator escapes punishment, it is a victory for the lawless, and they become more emboldened, bolstered by the knowledge that the instilling of fear into the populace operates in their favour.

Armed with this information, there is little to discourage them from striking again, with the attacks becoming even more flagrant. So, our children die while we cower in fear.

But, as American businessman Alan Cohen said, “Our history is not our destiny.” The situation does not have to remain as it is. The recent outcome of the farcical X6 investigations and trial, and the brutal stabbing of a teenage schoolboy on a bus, while other passengers watched, must be the tipping point for all decent Jamaicans.

The fact that we have failed our children is now staring us in the face. It is our responsibility to protect the most vulnerable among us, but we have reduced ourselves to being mere spectators and commentators as they are robbed of their youth and their lives are snuffed out.

Fortunately, there is strength in numbers. If the majority of us unite, we can overpower the minority who terrorise our youth. There must be a revolution. A change in our collective mindset. One where we develop a zero-tolerance attitude towards the endangerment of our children and look out for all kids as if they were our own.

Fighting for our children will sometimes mean literal combat. To sit idly by while a schoolboy is mortally wounded on a bus is scandalous. To hear a schoolgirl scream in the bathroom of a fast food restaurant, while she is being robbed and stabbed, and not investigate, is a disgrace.

There are no indications that the attacks on our youth will abate anytime soon.

It is a war, and the responsible adults among us must enlist as allies of our nation’s children.

As with any war, there will be casualties, but if we desire the best for the upcoming generation of Jamaicans, we must be prepared to be brave, step up to the plate, and deliver. It is incumbent upon us to be protectors, defenders and warriors for our children. We owe it to them.

-Michael Abrahams is a gynaecologist and obstetrician, comedian and poet. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and michabe_1999@hotmail.com, or tweet @mikeyabrahams.