Perverts preying on young girls and circulating videos of the sex act in Clarendon, but residents downplay the extent of the problem
Several males in the central Jamaica parish of Clarendon are flouting the law by having sex with underage girls, and to compound the breach, these men are video-recording the act and putting them in mass circulation.
This filming of schoolgirls having sex is believed to be one of the factors contributing to a spike in sexual abuse cases in the parish despite the residents, for the most part, denying that they face a major problem.
According to registrar for the Office of the Children's Registry, Greg Smith, there has been an increase in child abuse cases in Clarendon, which had more than 870 reports in the last year.
Most of these cases are concentrated in the Frankfield area.
Two guidance counsellors at a prominent high school in the parish last week told The Sunday Gleaner that most of the cases of child abuse they have dealt with in recent time involve the sexual exploitation of girls.
According to the guidance counsellors, oftentimes, the girls are encouraged by older boys and men in the community to engage in sexual activities, which are filmed without their knowledge. These videos are then circulated within the perpetrators' circle of friends.
Pat Murray*, who has been a guidance counsellor at the institution since 2002, said that one of the latest victims was a 12-year-old student who was filmed having sex with a much older student.
Efforts by school administrators to find the video have been unsuccessful although it has been seen by other students.
"This one we have heard about, but we have not seen it as yet, but the students have it circulating on their phones, so we are trying to get it to give it to the police, but we haven't," said Murray, who lamented the breakdown of morals in the society.
BADGE OF HONOUR
Her colleague Peter Smith* believes the filming of these sexual escapades has become the new badge of honour for males who save the videos as evidence to substantiate their exploits and earn bragging rights.
"Sometimes boys, who are marginally older, trick these girls and tell them all sorts of sweet nothings, then take them to a house and have them perform some form of sexual act, and the act is being videotaped and, as they say, 'the video do road'," said Smith.
"They do it for money and popularity, because there has to be something to be gained from being a star boy," he explained.
The counsellors said there have been a few cases of teenage pregnancies over the years, and they have referred a couple of students to the child guidance clinic because they were severely depressed and suicidal following sexual abuse. In one case, a girl tried to use a knife to cut herself, and in another, a student brought a rope to school with the intention of hanging herself after classes.
All the cases are usually referred to the police and Centre for Investigation of Sexual Offences & Child Abuse (CISOCA), but parents are generally not cooperative.
"Once the parents become aware, there is a determined effort to cover it up, out of shame," said Murray.
One senior policeman stationed in the community revealed earlier this year that the sexual abuse of children in that section of the parish was a major issue, and referred to a few of the cases he has seen in recent times.
"We have a grave challenge here when it comes to the young girls, especially when it comes to the fathers," he told our news team, who had enquired about the case of a 12-year-old girl who was pregnant in the parish.
The sexual abuse of children was the prime focus of the prime minister's town hall meeting that was hosted at the Edwin Allen High School recently.
The event saw several government ministers in attendance, as well as officials of the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Youth and Culture, and Children's Advocate Diahann Gordon Harrison.
But several of the residents said they did not attend the event because they are far from convinced child abuse is an issue.
"Is a false alarm, because them things there don't happen down here," declared one senior citizen who said he had heard that the prime minister would be in attendance and all residents were being invited to attend.
"We don't go where foolishness going on you know. We don't entertain foolishness," said Franklyn Mundle in reference to the town hall meeting, before adding, "We don't know of any old man or young boy abusing no children."
This was the general consensus of several individuals who were visibly upset that the meeting had not been centred on increasing employment opportunities for residents or stemming gun violence in the area.
Those who conceded that there might be an issue argued that it was as a result of parents not having jobs and young girls feeling the need to have relationships with older men to finance their education.
"Some of the times the parents know what is going on, but they allow them (children) to do them thing because time is rough and they can't find money," declared one male resident who was seen sitting on a chair in the town square.
"Sometimes when parents send them go to school, them go to man yard," retorted one young woman. "Nuff time you see them, but sometimes you don't even business," she said.
* Names changed on request.