Anastasia Cunningham, News Coordinator
The Child Development Agency (CDA) has now become actively involved in the case of a 14-year-old murder accused girl who gave birth on Wednesday.
Dahlia Cole, CDA public relations officer, told The Gleaner yesterday that although the agency was aware of the murder case, it was never formally brought into the matter. However, yesterday was the first time the agency became aware that the girl was pregnant, after The Gleaner reported that she had given birth.
"Despite the fact that her father had responsibility for her and the CDA was never brought in, now that she, being underage, has a child, especially for someone who is an adult, the CDA can step in," Cole said.
"Therefore, I can tell you that some intervention will take place. What that will be I cannot say at this stage. There is a court process that has to take place, but we now have to look at working with other partners to do what needs to be done in the best interest of the child."
On Wednesday, the residents of Southside, central Kingston, were enraged and concerned about why the CDA had not been monitoring the teen since she was involved in a murder case.
Probation officer's care
Cole said that under the section of the Child Care and Protecton Act dealing with 'Children in Conflict with the Law', children up to age 18 who have committed an offence and are brought before the court become the responsibility of the Department of Correctional Services and fall under the care and supervision of a probation officer.
Unless the court stipulates that the child is in need of care and protection, the CDA is not brought in. However, if involved, the CDA then appoints a social worker to the case.
In the case of a child being granted bail and placed in the custody of a parent or guardian, Cole said a person would have sole responsibility for the child and the state would not be involved unless the child was appointed a legal aid or a probation officer. However, the parent/guardian would have to adhere to the stipulations of the terms of the bail.
Cole noted that another critical factor was that the CDA could not be aware of all situations that require intervention unless they were brought to its attention. In this case, she said, the residents of the community were aware that the teen was pregnant and therefore should have contacted the CDA.
"We do not have eyes everywhere, so we don't know everything. That is why it has to be a community effort," Cole stressed. "If the residents know what is happening and don't report it, then the CDA can't be brought in. The law stipulates that we must report and each person has that responsibility to report if they suspect or know of a child in danger."
She added: "Don't wait until after the fact. You can be held accountable for knowing and not doing anything about it. The CDA would have been involved from the get-go if it was brought to our attention."
The teen is before the court on charges of murdering 21-year-old Crissann Wilson, also known as 'Angel', on July 21 last year. Wilson, who was two months pregnant at the time, was stabbed to death following a dispute with the teen.