Edmond Campbell, Senior Staff Reporter
SIXTH-FORM students of Ardenne High School in St Andrew have argued strongly that Jamaica's justice system has fallen woefully short of the country's expectations with too many sexual crimes against minors going unpunished.
A fired-up team of students questioned whether the justice system had the will to clamp down on incidents of carnal abuse.
There were clashes of opinions yesterday during a Gleaner-Island Grill Youth Editors' Forum at the institution where the senior students debated the topic: 'Should the age of consent be lowered, kept where it is, or increased?'
Commenting on the incidents of carnal abuse or older men having sex with children under the age of consent (16 years), the students demanded answers as to why the State was not more vigilant against the crime.
JUST OVER HALF CLEARED UP
Statistics from the Constabulary Communication Network (CCN) showed that from January to September 2012, the police were only able to clear up 295 or 53 per cent of the 553 cases of carnal abuse.
For the corresponding period last year, 172 cases of sexual intercourse with children were reported to the police with 35 or just over 20 per cent cleared up.
"Who is being locked up for these offences? Who is being held accountable?" Jomo Dixon, a lower sixth-form student, queried.
On the question of increasing the age of consent from 16 to 18 years, Dixon indicated that if the judicial system was unable to secure justice for children who now fell victims to sexual predators, there was no guarantee that the law would be enforced if the age of consent is set at 18 years.
"The law fails us now," he charged.
Supporting his colleague, Romane Duncan, another sixth-form student, questioned whether sexual crimes such as carnal abuse were treated with equal urgency and importance as other major crimes.
He suggested that there was the need for a process of resocialisation of the society about sexual crimes committed against children.
The debaters were split on the issue of whether the age of consent should be increased from 16 to 18 years.