Mon | Jan 25, 2021

Jamaica's bastards of the streets

Published:Monday | July 17, 2017 | 12:00 AM


It is no secret that Jamaica has failed its children, as many of them have been subject to abuse and the pernicious practice of child labour. These children have become the 'bastards' of the Jamaican society. Their rights as children and citizens are being ignored.

Far more children are seen begging on the streets or selling to commuters on buses in our public spaces in Half-Way Tree and at stop lights elsewhere.




Recently, I saw a little boy no older than five years old selling chocolate bars on a bus. He hardly knew in what direction to go or how to make the right change. What was more disheartening was his sharp tongue, as he played the role of the aggressive street vendor we have come to know, with all the colourful Jamaican curse words.

Children like him are being robbed of their childhood, with poverty being used as a scapegoat. While it would be easy to blame the State or more so the parents for allowing this, we as a society must take full responsibility. We are the ones who purchase from children on the streets and incentivise these activities. Our society has failed to claim these children as our own and demand that their rights be respected and guaranteed by the State and their legal guardians.

The Government should also look into revising our adoption laws and the conditions under which parental rights can be terminated to prevent children spending their lives in an institutional setting when they can be adopted into a family. Another measure that should be taken is creating a network of trained and licensed foster homes, where children in state care can be placed temporarily.