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EDITORIAL: Shining the light of justice on a rapist

Published:Wednesday | April 28, 2010 | 12:00 AM

There are persons in our society who believe a sexual offence is a minor crime and, as such, persons accused of rape, for example, should get a tongue lashing and a light sentence from the judge. In cases where the accused person pleads guilty, many feel a tongue lashing is sufficient punishment.

We are happy that Senior Puisne Judge Gloria Smith did not act according to such expectations last Friday when she shone the light of justice on 50-year-old Glendon Campbell and sent him to prison for 12 years for raping an 11-year-old girl. Justice Smith said sexual offences in this country are way out of line and that young girls must be allowed to grow up and live their lives in a normal way.

Child abuse getting worse

The idea of harming a child is as incomprehensible as it is horrific, in the eyes of well-thinking individuals. Yet the epidemic of child abuse appears to be getting worse. The children of our country need our protection. Child molesters, rapists, paedophiles and other sex criminals should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Their crime is heinous and they should be punished accordingly.

As we gear up to celebrate Child Month in a few days, let us recognise that scores of our children are suffering abuse - physical, emotional and sexual.

On the frontlines of the child-abuse battle have been the courageous NGOs that work with children in various communities, as well as teachers and guidance counsellors, nurses, doctors, social workers, church leaders and the police. Let us recognise that the Child Care and Protection Act passed in Parliament in 2004 places the onus on all responsible citizens to report cases of child abuse. We cannot be smug and offload our responsibility to the professionals. We must do our part.

Focus on teen mothers

We recommend that part of the focus this May be given to teenage mothers. What, we ask, are the prospects for our country's future when one in five children is born to a teenager? How can these at-risk parents be expected to raise healthy families? How are these children going to acquire the tools to equip themselves for life?

In a society as ours, overcome by the sickening cycle of murders, we can become numb to other evils around us but we cannot turn our backs on our children. The only thing that will help us take back our country from the marauding criminals who are active throughout the length and breadth of this country is a healthy rage of citizens who are prepared to demand action of our leaders. We cannot save all the children, but we must not stop trying. Let's make our children a national priority.

The opinions on this page, except for the above, do not necessarily reflect the views of The Gleaner. To respond to a Gleaner editorial, email us: editor@gleanerjm.com or fax: 922-6223. Responses should be no longer than 400 words. Not all responses will be published.