Sun | Sep 24, 2017

I cry for murdered children - PM - Tough questions from youngsters cause Simpson Miller to open up

Published:Sunday | December 6, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Children waiting in line to ask their questions at the Old Harbour New Testament Church on Thursday.

Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller came face to face with some bright 10- and 11-year-olds, who peppered her with tough questions last Thursday evening at the Old Harbour New Testament Church of God in St Catherine.

The forum, organised by the Office of the Prime Minister in collaboration with the Ministry of Youth and Culture, was aimed at addressing issues of abuse and violence against children in Jamaica.

Students from schools across the region - Clarendon, St Catherine and Kingston - came out en masse with their teachers and they were not short on questions.

Their questions ranged from child abuse, the impact of crime on the country to Grade Six Achievement Test worries and school needs.

With an avalanche of questions, Youth Minister Lisa Hanna had to record some and promised to give feedback to the various schools.

The question that had everyone's attention, though, came from a 10-year-old who wanted the prime minister to describe her feelings on hearing of the brutal rape and murder of children.

 

Not unmoved

 

Acknowledging the question to be an "important and sad one", Simpson Miller said the news did not leave her unmoved.

Brushing aside the assumption that she "glosses over" news, she let the roomful of people into her innermost emotions.

"There are times you lock yourself in the bathroom and cry because you know that child could become a great Jamaican. It hurts, while people think leaders gloss over the news, but Lisa (Hanna), Sandrea (Falconer) and myself, we all would meet ... three of us would embrace and cry," said Simpson Miller.

The prime minister reiterated her call for stiffer penalties for child molesters.

"When a child is molested, the molester should be dragged off to prison and get the full strength of the law. Nothing should get in a child's way to prevent them from living.

"It is terrible and evil when adults believe they have a right to rape. They should be locked away forever. The punishment must be so stiff that one would never try it again," said Simpson Miller.