Tue | Feb 7, 2023

High level of school dropouts, teen pregnancies cause for concern

Published:Wednesday | January 25, 2023 | 12:44 AM

THE EDITOR, Madam:

As an educator for over 20 years, I am deeply concerned about the increasing level of high-school dropouts and teenage pregnancies in our schools.

We don’t need official statistics to prove that since the COVID pandemic, there has been an uptick in the level of high-school dropouts and teenage pregnancies. Just take a visit to the postnatal clinics and invariably you will see young girls who should be in school with pimples on their face, carrying a baby on their waist.

In too many of the cases, these girls are impregnated by adult males, some of whom are old enough to be their father. It is full time our society seeks to ostracise these sexual predators. I think it is time to amend The Offences Against The Person Act and increase the penalty for sexual offences against girls between the ages of 12 and 16 years old to a maximum of life imprisonment, instead of the current maximum seven years’ imprisonment.

We need to protect our children from these predators and make an example of them for abusing our children.

The increasing reports of sexual abuse of our children should concern all of us, and we should move with haste to protect them from harm.

Jamaica, like many other English-speaking countries, has a Sex Offender Registry. However, it is not open to the public. It is my view that everyone should have access to the Sex Offenders’ Registry. Don’t parents and all law-abiding citizens deserve to know when an offender has moved into our community?

It is full time our laws serve to create a more equitable balance in protecting the rights of the victims, as opposed to the rights of the offender. The pain and suffering of the victims and their loved ones need greater focus from the law.

Let us show our children that we really care about them. Let us end the sexual violence against our children by first breaking our silence. The word is always LOVE!

ANDRE A.O. WELLINGTON, JP

Dean of Discipline

Alston High School