THE EDITOR, Sir:
May, or Child Month, is being commemorated under the theme, 'Jamaica 50: Celebrate Our Children'.
Isn't it ironic, though, that in a time when scores of our children are missing, we celebrate them? When the abject squalor that some are living in is displayed on local television stations, we celebrate them? When news reports are aired about weeks-old babies testing positive for sexually transmitted infections, and when they are brutally sodomised and raped, we celebrate them?
Wouldn't we be more realistic if the theme was 'Save Our Children'?
Do we snuggle, blissfully asleep in our warm, dry beds when we know that our neighbour's child is living in a hut shivering from cold, hungry, teeth clattering, wet, exposed to the elements? Do we turn a blind eye when fathers, stepfathers, other family members and close friends sexually ravish and spoil our children? Are we aware of the psychological effect this has on those who survive?
We conduct research on the escalation of violence and crime in our schools. We have seminars and workshops on mediation and conflict resolution, but things only get worse. Are we aware of the number of molested, abused, ill-treated, suicidal children in our midst?
Jamaica has acquired the unenviable reputation for having a very high rate of violent crime, of which many children are victims.
How do we celebrate our children when we leave them to fend for themselves? When we leave them to grow themselves? When we use them to satisfy our sexual appetite? When we use them as labourers in our vineyards in our quest to be on the Forbes list? When we use them as conveyor belts for drugs and guns?
How can we celebrate them when we are the very perpetrators of crimes against them? Jamaica, let us love our children. They have a right to shelter, education, health, love and life.
Claude McKay High
James Hill, Clarendon