Tue | Sep 26, 2017

Boy wanted to cut teacher's throat - Children's advocate is reminding Jamaicans that kids live what they learn

Published:Wednesday | March 15, 2017 | 3:00 AMJason Cross
Diahann Gordon Harrison

Children's advocate Diahann Gordon Harrison is seeking to highlight some of the pitfalls that more often than not will occur when children are exposed to high levels of crime, violence and sexual abuse.

At a panel discussion, which formed part of Commonwealth Day 2017 celebrations on Monday, hosted by the Houses of Parliament, she stressed the importance of each citizen knowing and acting as if they know, that children live what they learn.

Gordon Harrison drew on examples from her years of experience and from her day-to-day life as a professional looking out for the well-being of children.

The office of the Children's Advocate gives support to children who encounter various forms of sexual, physical or psychological violence.

Harrison Gordon shared one incident in which a student who observed vicious and evil acts in his neighbourhood and strongly felt that those actions were the normal way to deal with issues.

"This case dates back to 2012. We had to deal with a situation where a little boy was very disruptive at school. The teacher on one occasion asked him to go to the principal's office. Instead, that child ran home, where he indicated that he needed a knife because he was going back to slit the teacher's throat."

The boy was residing with his grandmother at the time and in a volatile community. He explained to her that he wanted to cut the Teacher's throat because teacher had been disrespectful to him.

"When we did further investigation of what the boy's story was behind the scenes, he related that he had seen gang members kill persons. He had (also) seen on one occasion a gang member actually take out the heart of a deceased and bury it as part of an initiation (ceremony into the gang). That child was exposed to very severe forms of violence at the community level, and what struck me was that he was six years old when he had that exposure," Gordon Harrison revealed.

"It brings me right back to (the saying), children live what they learn, so we have to be careful of the exposure we give to children and also the parental systems and controls of supervision. We must put measures in place to make sure they are not exposed," she said at the function at The Knutsford Court Hotel in St Andrew.