St Thomas residents adamant that 14-year-old Kayalicia Simpson was lured to her death by an intimate friend
The crisis in St Thomas, with several adults involved in sexual relationships with minors, is being pointed to as a factor in the murder last Tuesday of 14-year-old student Kayalicia Simpson in the Newlands Housing Scheme.
With the police still questioning two persons in connection with the early morning murder and confirmation last Friday that Kayalicia was pregnant, several residents are urging investigators to examine all intimate links which the Donald Quarrie High School student had with adults.
While expressing shock and outrage at the killing and denouncing the act as demonic and evil, residents speculate that Kayalicia was murdered because she was pregnant and was about to name the man with whom she had been intimate.
"At one point, when people start talk things, one of them said that before him name call up in any pregnancy, somebody was going to die. And see it deh, dem kill har!" said one resident.
Seemingly armed with that information, Opposition Leader Andrew Holness, who visited Kayalicia's family last Wednesday, called for a national discourse on issues of grooming, illicit sexual relationships, and parental surveillance of children.
"What is clear from these kinds of murders is that the victim knows the perpetrator, and the perpetrator has either had a relationship or has been profiling or grooming the young girl," charged Holness.
"I am very concerned about it because it is very difficult for parents to pick up what's going on because the relationship is being conducted via telephone or the Internet and the parents aren't aware.
"There has to be greater public discourse to get our young girls to tell their parents what's happening and for parents to increase surveillance of their children to see what's happening with them," added Holness.
breakdown in family
Fatima Muwwakkil, president of the St Thomas Parish Youth Council, argues that the problem facing our children stems from a breakdown in the family and society overall.
"Our crippled economy is in dire need of repair. Our people need to be re-educated; re-education not to know ABCs or 123s, but to be taught the art of morality, how to respect and appreciate each other," Muwwakkil told The Sunday Gleaner.
"We need to see more on-the-ground personnel making weekly visits in the areas that are statistically most vulnerable and affected by these issues, and with more collaboration between agencies, we can implement sustainable programmes and have parenting lessons and seminars to ensure better parents and safer children," added Muwwakkil.
The issue of the sexual abuse of children in St Thomas was placed back on the front burner last week, almost one year after the police raised a red flag about parents in the parish pushing their children into sexual activities in return for money.
The Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse lists the parish as one of those with the highest numbers of child sexual abuse.
"What I have seen is a pimping of our children, whereby families are unable to take care of themselves economically, so the children are given the responsibility of bringing in money to the family," Lorian Peart-Roberts of the Social Development Commission in St Thomas told a recent Gleaner Editors' Forum.
"The girls, especially, are foisted on men of better means, and they are expected to support the family. It is not a guessing game, and it's a widespread problem across the parish of St Thomas," added Peart-Roberts.