Fri | Sep 22, 2017

Are State homes safe for vulnerable children?

Published:Thursday | May 11, 2017 | 5:18 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

The article titled 'State slackness! Children absconding from Government facilities at will', published in The Sunday Gleaner (May 7, 2017), is upsetting, and there are questions that must be asked of the administrators of these facilities.

According to the story, there were at least 50 children who went missing between the period February 2016 and March 2017, most of whom were located at the St Augustine Home for Boys and the Homestead Place of Safety.

I was curious to know what, if any, measures were actually implemented immediately following the first, or even the second, child escaping from a facility. However, Greig Smith, registrar at the Office of the Children's Registry, was quoted as saying: "We have raised the concerns of whether security measures [could] be put in place to ensure that they are safe."

Is Smith suggesting that, up to this point, no security arrangements are in place to ensure that these vulnerable children are kept safe in these facilities?

He was also quoted as saying: "Our main concern is really that sometimes these children go missing and there [are] no [photographs] coming from these institutions for them."

What kind of negligence is this? How, then, would these facilities positively identify the children when they escape? How would they know who is who?

What is the purpose of the State running places of safety if the children are no safer in its care?

On the face of it, this slackness exists because proper supervision and management of these so-called places of safety are lacking. There needs to be accountability now.

Swift intervention is necessary to address this alarming situation before it gets worse. The State cannot continue to be negligent in caring for our vulnerable children.

DUJON RUSSELL

dujon.russell@yahoo.com