UPDATED: 35 children killed already up to September
As violence against the island's children rises to increasingly disturbing levels, National Security Minister Dr Horace Chang says the brutality that is beginning to emerge is particularly worrying.
At least 35 children have been killed since the start of the year and September has not yet ended.
The latest youngster to be murdered was 16-year-old Herbert Morrison student Jayshenel Gordon, who, along with her mother, died at the hands of her stepfather in Rosemount, St James.
On Saturday morning, as Chang spoke during the Office of the Children's Advocate's 'Child Justice Guidelines Training Seminar' for the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), Gordon was still alive.
"We need to do more because 34 murders are certainly unacceptable to all of us," the minister pointed out, adding that he had had discussions with Police Commissioner Major General Antony Anderson and Dianne McIntosh, his permanent secretary, about some additional things that could be done.
"Offenders found guilty of these crimes must be brought to swift justice. There has to be a signal given. When anyone cuts down a child of two or three because his father is a criminal, there is something going wrong in the head, and we have to find a way to get them off the streets," he declared.
Chang expressed dismay that the country had registered a distressing number of murders of children this year, noting that his ministry would have to do everything in its power to rid the streets of the perpetrators.
Acknowledging that the phrase "children are our future" has become a cliche, he maintained that they, indeed, were just that.
"More importantly, children are part of our very important present. How we treat them has significant bearing on the future we achieve," he said.
"The extent to which we as a society create tools to educate, protect, and provide for our children is the extent to which we secure our own collective posterity. "
Chang admitted to having grave concerns for Jamaica's future in light of the prevailing vulnerability of the island's children.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: A previous version of this article gave the impression that 35 children had been killed in September alone.)