Wed | Aug 16, 2017

Prime Minister vows to protect nation's children

Published:Wednesday | March 25, 2015 | 3:00 AMEdmond Campbell

"We will protect them."

A strong word of assurance to the country's children yesterday by Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller who also warned men who prey on children that the full force of the law would be applied to punish them.

The prime minister made an impassioned plea to the nation yesterday to stand against the horrific violence being waged against children across the country.

In her contribution to the Budget Debate in Gordon House, Simpson Miller said a study done by the Office of the Children's Registry revealed that only one in 10 adult Jamaicans, despite knowing, come forward with information to the police about cases of abuse against children, including sexual abuse.

"This is unacceptable! We cannot remain silent!" declared the prime minister, who described as unsettling cases of incest and sexual abuse against family members.

"We must intensify our efforts to bring perpetrators of these heinous crimes against our children to book," she charged.

Simpson Miller also announced that the Government was moving to amend the law in order to impose tougher penalties when a girl is killed and the perpetrator knew that she was pregnant.

"This is to be treated as an aggravating feature in determining the sentence imposed by the court, so that the murderer receives significantly harsher punishment in the form of a longer sentence," the prime minister asserted.

She told her parliamentary colleagues that the abuse of the nation's children "weighs heavily on my heart, and I know on the hearts of every well-thinking Jamaican".

Collective cries of condemnation echoed across the country recently when news broke that 14-year-old Kayalicia Simpson of the Newlands Housing Scheme in St Thomas and a student of the Donald Quarrie High School was viciously attacked and killed. It was later discovered that she was four months pregnant.

edmond.campbell@gleanerjm.com