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Child abuse – we must stop

Published:Wednesday | September 16, 2015 | 12:00 AMMichael Aiken, Contributor

The current allegations of underage rape against a popular political and public relations personality, along with the recent parading of the Jamaican pilot similarly charged in Qatar, have brought to the surface again the dismal plight of some of our precious Jamaican children. They are being abused, raped, impregnated, and murdered, and the general attitude of our Jamaican populace seems laissez faire at best and condoning at worst.

Many of us fortunate enough to escape horrible physical and sexual abuse as children can still testify to unforgettable verbal and emotional abuse. We have heard words such as "idiat, fool, dunce like bat"; "wutless like yuh puppa"; black an' ugly like sin"; "you nah tun out to nutten"; "pickney, mi nuh like yuh"; "pickney, yuh fi dead".

A natural reaction for an outsider looking in is to recoil in horror and ask, How can people (child abusers) be so evil? Others who observed the Church flexing its muscles a few months ago with a massive march and rally in Half-Way Tree may also be asking, Why isn't the Church speaking more loudly against child abuse? Or, What are state agencies doing to end this evil now?

These natural questions from good people form part of the root reason why this scourge of child abuse is growing and outpacing our ability to eliminate it. They express our desire to see the problem eliminated by someone else or by some agency outside the scope of our immediate authority!

Child Abuse Sets Us All Back

Our future as a nation is set back every time we abuse a precious child. Often, victims of sexual abuse, though surviving physically, are unable to develop to their fullest academic and social potential. Many are incapable of maintaining healthy physical (sexual) and emotional relationships without help from private-sector or state, health, and welfare agencies. Others struggle with abnormal self-esteem issues and are unable to contribute as normal, fulfilled, and balanced human beings at work and play. If our children are our future, aren't we setting back our collective national future every time we rape, impregnate, and murder a child?

Jamaica will never become the place to live, work, raise families, and do business if we continue to allow a culture of child abuse to grow and become as commonplace as it currently seems to be. We must begin to do more than just report and talk about this evil among us, otherwise we are ensuring that we will not achieve our national Vision 2030 Jamaica! We must, therefore, aggressively attend to eliminating and transforming this growing and horrendous problem of child abuse.

Let's use the main state agency's acronym, CDA (Child Development Agency), as a mnemonic device to drive our own personal responsibility and action:

C: Convince yourself now, even as you read, that this horrible problem is your problem and your responsibility! As soon as you've done that, get up and go convince a family member, friend, or neighbour!

D: Demand that your church, civic group, social club, sports club, lodge, drinking crew, women's group, political action group, college and university fraternity engage in some significant action and public initiative ASAP, or you are done with them! You will stop being a member or attending meetings or lyming with them!

A: Agitate! Act! Agitate! Act! Keep hounding your family, friends, neighbours, coworkers, state, and private-sector agencies to do something and help you do something about this horrible evil among us!

For the sake of our children, for the sake of our prosperous national future, let's immediately engage in positive actions to halt and eliminate this horrible proliferation of child abuse and child murder right now!

- Michael Aiken is a consultant with Training Dynamics and Consultants Ltd. Jamaica and a research fellow with ARTIS Research & Risk Modelling.