'Fewer kids murdered' - Stats show decline in major crimes against youth; advocate hoping for further reduction
Fewer children are being murdered, according to the latest data from the police, but children's advocate Diahann Gordon Harrison believes that the 2018 figures are quite alarming nonetheless.
The statistics reveal that from January 1 to October 31, 2018, a total of 353 major crimes were committed against children across Jamaica. That figure is 128 fewer major crimes than occurred during the same period in 2017, when it was 481.
Of the 353 children who had crimes committed against them this year, 38 were murdered (24 males and 14 females). This indicates a 21 per cent decrease in children being murdered when compared to last year when 48 of the nation's youth were killed.
Speaking to The Gleaner yesterday, Gordon Harrison said, "A 27 per cent reduction in serious crimes against children for this year is encouraging when you compare it with last year, but we still have a very alarming number of our children who continue to be exposed to harm."
Of the 38 murders committed against children this year, 20 (53 per cent) cases have been cleared up. The police have explained this to mean that persons were arrested and charged. But Gordon Harrison said that she would prefer to know that the "term cleared up" is used whenever there is a conviction.
"From the police's perspective, I know it has been a historical practice to refer to the arrest and charge of someone as clearing up a murder. But, of course, in a holistic sense, if it is that the wrong person has been apprehended and charged, then it means that that crime has not really been solved. That, for me, highlights that conviction is clearing up a matter because that is ultimate accountability," said the children's advocate.
She continued: "There are strategies that still need to be pushed and implemented. The Jamaica Constabulary Force has committed to looking at different initiatives that can impact public safety and create safe spaces for children. This has been highlighted as one of the plans that they will be focusing on to ensure that we eradicate and minimise some of these incidents that affect our children negatively."