Yesterday, The Gleaner reported the gut-wrenching details of Ketura Bennett's reaction to the rape and murder of her 11-year-old son, Christopher Suckra.
The Petersfield High seventh-grader was found in cane fields at Blue Castles, near Georges Plain, in Westmoreland, after going missing between home and school. He had been sodomised and chopped to death, a grisly fate that defies comprehension and renders any emotional response simply inadequate.
However, while the nation has been reeling from what seems to be an unending series of gruesome child killings, almost invariably accompanied by sexual assault, we must acknowledge that the current crisis has been developing for some time.
For while we have reacted to the child killings with the expected shock, grief and deep-seated rage, as a nation we have not drawn the line firmly and immutably between minors and the adults who would engage them in sexual activity. And, we suspect that this laxity has created leeway for sexual predators, who presumably often kill their victims who know and can identify them.
A standard of sexual propriety
It is not that we have given child rapists and murderers carte blanche to engage in their stomach-churning activities; we have simply not set and maintained a standard of sexual propriety as it relates to minors, hence the boundaries of sexual activity have been moving inexorably to encompass more and more children.
It would be interesting, for instance, to know how many 'big men', as middle-age and elderly males are often termed in Jamaica, have been charged after impregnating girls under the age of consent. There can hardly be any more conclusive evidence of sexual involvement than pregnancy, and even if the girl is uncooperative, even a cursory investigation is sure to turn up hard evidence.
But, so often we have turned a blind or decidedly, not overly jaundiced judicial eye to these liaisons, the result being, we believe, the creation of an atmosphere in which sexual predators have refined their taste for minors.
So, we cannot condemn the molestation and murder of Christopher Suckra without openly condemning and bringing the relevant authorities' for attention to the relationships between minors and big men or women in our communities. And some of those liaisons are lucrative for the young victims' family, so they too must be held accountable.
Until we understand that we have to draw the line long before it gets to the stage of dead children found mutilated and discarded, we will continue to be shocked by headlines about happenings that we, as a nation, could have done so much to prevent happening in the first place.
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