Sat | Sep 22, 2018

Chilling childcare facility report - JFJ discloses five disturbing cases

Published:Tuesday | July 3, 2018 | 12:00 AMSyranno Baines/Gleaner Writer
Rodje Malcolm, executive director of Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ), speaks at the UNICEF, JFJ and Caribbean Policy Research Institute forum on Safety and Justice for Jamaican Children at the Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston last week.

Human-rights group Jamaicans For Justice (JFJ) has revealed chilling details of five documented cases of critical incidents that have occurred in residential childcare facilities in the past five years.

In an effort to address the improvements needed for children in state care, JFJ forged a partnership with UNICEF. As part of the initiative, JFJ is undertaking a comprehensive study to examine the state-care landscape in Jamaica, including quality of care for wards of the State.

Disclosing the preliminary findings of the study on Safety and Justice for Jamaican Children last Thursday at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston, JFJ Executive Director RodjÈ Malcolm noted that the organisation has examined more than 10 years of reports documenting critical incidents at both public and private childcare facilities.

Malcolm pointed out that to date, JFJ had documented and analysed more than 1,600 incidents, including physical and sexual abuse, attempted suicides and self-harming by children in institutional care.

Below are details of the five disturbing cases the findings outlined:

1 A mentally challenged female ward was manipulated into performing oral sex on two other wards. The two wards had told her that if she did it, they would write a letter to the judge, and the court would send her home. The ward believed them and performed the sexual act in exchange for the letter.

2 A female ward reported that she was beaten by other wards and a caregiver because she tried to run away from the facility. She said the caregiver used a padlock to hit her while another threatened to poison her.

3 A ward tried to kill herself by eating rat poison she removed from under the stove. She was admitted for 16 days at the Falmouth Hospital. She said she was depressed. She entered state care after her father sexually abused her and was charged with incest. She could not go home because her family did not believe her and had put her out.

4 A female ward jumped from a mango tree after being beaten by another ward. The caregiver on duty offered no assistance and was suspended for two days without salary.

5 A male ward was reported by other wards to the caregiver for damaging the TV. The caregiver began beating the ward, but he ran away. The caregiver then ordered the other wards to chase and catch him. They caught him and dragged him along the ground back to the caregiver, scraping his bottom until the skin stripped off.

The caregiver then carried him to the 'hot room' and hit him in the head with a flat board and an umbrella. Then the other wards held him down, stretched him out on the bed, and beat him on his bottom. The caregiver was placed on one-month suspension by the manager. The manager indicated that while his actions could warrant termination, he had been an efficient worker.

syranno.baines@gleanerjm.com