Arthur Hall, Senior Staff Reporter
Grange ... I was pained when I heard about the assault on the nine-month-old.
Shock and outrage have greeted reports of the latest attack on one of the nation's children.
Calls flooded The Gleaner's newsroom and radio talk shows with condemnation yesterday as news spread about the death of a nine-month-old child who was allegedly sexually assaulted in Arnett Gardens, south St Andrew.
Leading the way was Information Minister Olivia Grange, who lashed out at the criminals, and Opposition Spokes-person on Youth, Lisa Hanna, who expressed horror at what she described as the barbaric attacks on children.
They were quickly joined by the Office of the Children's Advocate, which called for more inter-agency collaboration to ensure the safety of children, especially those whose parents are detained or sent to prison.
Grange, obviously stung by the recent fatal attacks on at least four children, was almost in tears as she voiced her concerns yesterday.
"I'm appalled at the brazen brutality and increasing level of violence in our country in general, and the nature of the violence being committed against our children in particular," Grange told journalists during the weekly post-Cabinet media briefing at Jamaica House.
She said the latest attacks on children, have been hard for her to deal with.
"I was pained when I heard about the assault on the nine-month-old child. It really is chilling, words can't express how I feel," Grange said, her voice breaking.
"The abuses that are taking place in the country - incest, carnal abuse, rape, abduction and killings - are becoming all too frequent."
Cannot remain passive
Grange, who also has responsibility for women's affairs, argued that, as a nation, Jamaicans cannot remain passive while criminals roam with impunity.
"We must commit ourselves to take a concerted stand for the elimination of all forms of violence, but especially against our children," Grange added.
Hanna was equally strident in denouncing the attacks.
"The quality of life in a society can be measured by the way we treat our youth and the elderly," she said. "The levels of violence and abuse being directed at these groups in our country are troubling indicators for our nation's development," Hanna said.
The recently appointed opposition spokesperson said that while there needs to be improved policing, other measures must be implemented to address the problem.
"The education sector and other social services must advance more proactive intervention strategies that will magnetise the participation of our young people. New measures must be taken to limit their exposure to antisocial activities and other dangers," Hanna added.
The Office of the Children's Advocate focused its attention on the fact that the mother of the nine-month-old was serving a prison sentence at this time.
"No child should ever become a victim because of the wrongdoing or alleged wrongdoing of their parents," the office said.
Almost 60 children have been murdered across the island since the start of the year.