Fri | Dec 4, 2020

McKenzie appeals for end to violence against children

Published:Monday | May 4, 2020 | 12:16 AMChristopher Serju/Gleaner Writer
Jean-Claude Walters Dunn, youth mayor of Kingston, memorialises the death of children at the Secret Garden monument in downtown Kingston yesterday. He was attending a wreath-laying ceremony in honour of children who have died tragically. May is commemorated as Child Month.
Jean-Claude Walters Dunn, youth mayor of Kingston, memorialises the death of children at the Secret Garden monument in downtown Kingston yesterday. He was attending a wreath-laying ceremony in honour of children who have died tragically. May is commemorated as Child Month.

Minister of Local Government and Community Development Desmond McKenzie yesterday renewed the call for Jamaicans to unite in protecting the nation’s children from being slaughtered.

“We continue to see too many brutal acts being played out against our children in the society, and despite the constant message being sent out to the general public, there still seems to be this level of hostility against our young people, and we are hoping that we will continue to see a decline in the rate of homicide and abuse of children,” McKenzie said.

“We can only continue to commemorate and celebrate the lives of those who have died under violent and tragic circumstances and appeal to the wider Jamaica to ensure that we love, cherish and respect our children.”

Year-on-year official data on child murders were not immediately available, Stephanie Lindsay, head of the police communication arm, told The Gleaner yesterday.

McKenzie was speaking at the official launch of a scaled-down Child Month wreath-laying ceremony at the Secret Garden monument at the intersection of Tower and Church streets in downtown Kingston. The event was attended only by officials of the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation (KSAMC) and journalists in observance of social-distancing laws aimed at curbing COVID-19.

Child Month is being celebrated this year under the theme, ‘Unplug Negativity, Connect Positivity ... Think’, as the world continues to navigate the uncharted waters of the coronavirus pandemic, which has also impacted child mortality, McKenzie said.

“This year’s celebration is different and has to be scaled down because of COVID-19 and the need to observe social distancing, and it has also played a role in the tragic passing of our young children,” he said.

A four-year-old is Jamaica’s youngest COVID-19 fatality.

Among those laying wreaths during yesterday’s ceremony were McKenzie, Kingston Mayor Delroy Williams, Deputy Mayor Winston Ennis, and Minority Leader Andrew Swaby.

The KSAMC, in a statement, reminded Jamaicans that Child Month was a time for reflection on the sanctity of the life of every child.

“Every child is indeed a promise. It is up to the family and society to create the enabling environment that will allow each child to achieve their full potential and learn good values that will create good citizens,” the corporation said.

christopher.serju@gleanerjm.com