Children’s Advocate Mary Clarke is urging the relevant authorities to institute more parental education programmes aimed at reducing the almost daily occurrence of children being reported missing.
Clarke issued the appeal while speaking in an interview with the Gleaner/Power 106 news center today.
According to her the measures should both seek to arrest the problems resulting in children escaping parental custody as well as the reasons which lead to some being kidnapped.
Clarke is also expressing concerns about the number of minors who are involved in hidden labour such as masseuse, child prostitution, financial scams and drug running.
The International Labour Organisation- ILO, using figures obtained from the 2002 national cenus, last year, estimated that more than 26,000 Jamaican children are working as vendors, agricultural and commercial labourers; domestic helpers and prostitutes, among other forms of engagement.
She urged both the police and the Health Ministry to collaborate on this issue, Clarke says in the past, many children have been rescued from the clutches of child labour, but added that there was no telling how many of them have been forced to return because of the absence of a comprehensive mechanism designed to track their progress.
The ILO Convention 138 defines child labour as one in which any child under the age of 15 engaged in activity to feed family or self or any activity which interrupts a child’s social development and education.
This treatise obligates countries to fix a minimum age for employment that should not be less than the age for completing compulsory schooling.
In Jamaica, the legal age for completing school is 16 years, however, the Ministry of Education is working to move this upwards to 18.