Wed | Jan 27, 2021

Naughty children again?

Published:Sunday | February 2, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Orville Taylor

"Pickney dem now-adays naav no behaviah!" The hysteria surrounding the young high-school girls reportedly involved in a sexually explicit video has led to a range of remarks from surprisingly outraged commentators.

Now, let me be honest: I have not seen the clip, because I am neither an investigator from the Child Development Agency, the Office of the Children's Advocate nor a member of staff of the police's Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse. Therefore, unless there is some reason in law that I need to see the recording, I am illegally contributing to the propagation of child pornography. Even if I were a policewoman, unless I am connected to that investigation, I should not look at it.

Therefore, all those persons who are condemning the children are themselves just as criminal and delinquent. For all those rusty-back men and stiff-faced women who shared the clip, what is so interesting about misguided youngsters engaging in improper sexual behaviour? Were that your child, would you want the entire cyber-Jamaican community to be ogling?

Imagine a scenario, where two six-year-olds were taped by a seven-year-old, using her parent's smartphone, while they all were playing 'dolly house'. If you wanted to see it for any other reason than to tell the parents, so that they could bend the trees while they are green, you are a pervert, and the law recognises you to be so.

no child's play

This is no child's play. Under the Child Pornography (Prevention) Act (CPPA) of 2009, a child is defined as any person below 18 years. Thus, that pretty much takes care of all those students in high school between grades seven and 11.

However, one should remember that sixth-formers range from 16 to 19. And for those who have any doubt, the act defines child pornography as any visual representation that shows a person "... depicted as ... a child ... engaged in, or is depicted as being engaged in, sexual activity ... ."

Section 2 (2) removes all ambiguity because a person dressed in a school uniform, whether he or she is older than 18, is still depicted as a child. That is why the chief prefect is called head boy and head girl, respectively. Of course, a headman is a tribal elder in non-Western societies. The section reads, "For the avoidance of doubt ... 'child pornography' ... shall be construed as including a reference to an image resembling a person, which has been generated or modified electronically or otherwise, and any evidence that some of the principal characteristics shown may be those of an adult shall be disregarded if the predominant impression conveyed is that the image shown is that of a child."

In simple language, if an adult masquerades as a child and simulates sexual activity, or if a computer-generated image is that of a cartoon child 'doing the nasty', whosoever has such recordings does not merely go overboard, like the former senior cop. Rather, just like undisciplined deck hands and seamen, he or she would be in deep ship.

'Dirty' videos and still images of children have surfaced before. There was an awful one, several years ago, that a distraught adult communicated to me, but by the time I checked with the cops, they already seen it and were investigating.

One surely will remember the pictures, circulating of children from a prominent traditional high school, showing genitalia. Oh, by the way, maybe we need to do a study to see if school attendance correlates to involvement in prostitution.

The sociology

Nonetheless, here is where the sociology comes in. Has anyone ever wondered what are the factors affecting such behaviour? Are we seeing an alarming new trend, or is it that media and social media have made such behaviour, hitherto uncovered, to now surface and be recorded and transmitted? Similarly, we note that the incidence of child abuse has increased. However, is it that the reporting has risen since the 2004 Child Care and Protection Act (CCPA) makes non-reporting a criminal offence, even for strangers?

After all, despite the myths proffered by Gangang and Grampa, children might not be 'coutin' any younger than when peenie-wallie (fireflies) and full moons were the only light after dark.

The age of consent, up to 1988, was 14. Moreover, check the data from the National Family Planning Board: Children are not having children. In fact, the age of first birth is much later now than in the 1960s, and females are staying in school longer than back then. Thus, many of the fifth- and sixth-formers who are engaged in sexual activity would have been married, if from brown uptown, or well on the way to having out their lot, if from the lower classes. If you have doubt, check Granny's birthdate and count nine months before her first offspring was born.

And this is where the dissonance arises. Under the Sexual Offences Act of 2010, the age of consent is 16, while the CPPA uses 18. This disparity must be addressed.

activities that are not enforced

Still, there are other bits of illegal activities regarding the care of children which even the police are not enforcing. For example, we are well aware that showing dirty movies and playing sexually inappropriate 'music' on the daggering minibuses violate the above legislation. However, does anyone realise that speeding and driving carelessly, or uninsured, with high-school children also breach the law? This is a point I have made several times to the cops.

Think of it: In the USA, where there is the charge of endangerment for such offences, drivers of public carriages that convey minors lose their licences faster than politicians lose their temper. This is derelict behaviour by the drivers. Moreover, students from all schools are exposed to this negative secondary socialisation.

Anyway, for all that it is worth, nothing trumps parenting. Let us keep our children close because firm structures don't crumble.

Dr Orville Taylor is senior lecturer in sociology at the UWI and a radio talk-show host. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and tayloronblackline@hotmail.com.