The chilling wail of anguish by parents who have to bury their children is getting louder as criminals seem to set their sights on the island's defenceless youth. Just over a month into the new year and, already, The Gleaner has reported at least four children being murdered.
Added to the already-long list of children victims are four-year-old Rushaun Burford and 14-year-old Shariefa Saddler, who were killed in the Corporate Area in less than 24 hours last week.
The list already included easily recognisable names such as Ananda Dean, Shaneka Shakes, Shauna-Kay Ledgister, Sasha-Kay Brown, and Teonia Henry, whose body was found with multiple stab wounds in Jarrett Lane off Mountain View Avenue in east Kingston in 2011.
Last year, 41 children (33 boys and eight girls) where killed across the island. This was a reduction from the 54 children (48 boys and six girls) killed in 2011.
That followed a 10-year period from 2000 to 2010, when more than 1,500 children were killed across the island.
"How man can so cold? To see how the criminals deal with the little girl makes you afraid to send your child on the road," declared one woman as she watched police process the scene on Lothian Avenue in Kingston 11, where Shariefa's body was found last Wednesday.
"A nuh my child but me feel it. How her mother a go tek this? We need Jesus in this country!" shouted one woman with tears streaming down her face as she looked at the lifeless body of Rushaun on Lord Elgin Street in Allman Town one day later.
That shock and disgust came from all sectors of the society last week, echoing what the country has heard every time a child has been killed.
But this time, it seems the society has reached another tipping point, with many persons and groups calling for measures to protect the children.According to Minister of Youth Lisa Hanna, the killing of our children is sad evidence of a new level of heartlessness and senseless cruelty that seems to be taking root in the country.
"There can be no issue that can justify someone wickedly training their gun on an innocent four-year-old or raping and killing a 14-year-old girl.
"Killing our innocent children for any reason is a cowardly and reprehensible act," said Hanna as she argued that all Jamaicans must see it as their solemn duty to stop the scourge that seems to be taking over the country.
For child-rights advocate Betty Ann Blaine, it is the women of Jamaica who must move to protect the children.
"We, the women, can put a stop to this situation if we choose to," asserted Blaine.
"Child killers have mothers and family members, and many of those persons know exactly what is going on and what their children are up to.
"The mothers of child killers can no longer harbour their children who commit these brutal crimes," added Blaine.
That's a position shared by CEO of the Child Development Agency Carla Francis-Edie.However, she wants the entire society to say 'no more' to the killing of our children.
"All of us must take personal responsibility for the care and protection of our children," said Francis-Edie.
"I urge members of society to identify and isolate the child abusers among us by reporting all known or suspected cases of abuse against our children, in accordance with the Child Care and Protection Act."
you kill an innocent child, you should pay with your life. You should
be hanged by the neck until you are dead - no prison and free food. If
you kill a child, you should not be allowed to live. Our children are
special gifts from God.
It is very sad that our children, who are innocent, are being targeted by perverts. One cannot be too careful. We have to be vigilant, and it takes a community to raise a child.Lelieth Bonner - Manchester