Sat | Sep 19, 2020

Who are these child killers?

Published:Sunday | October 13, 2019 | 12:00 AM
The Secret Garden monument was erected November 20, 2008, at the intersection of Church and Tower streets in downtown Kingston, in honour of children who have died under tragic circumstances.
The Secret Gardens monument in downtown Kingston.
Betty Ann Blaine

The voices of Jamaica’s missing children are crying out from their graves. They are crying for justice.

The majority of the child murderers in Jamaica have not been brought to book to pay for their crimes.

Does Jamaica have a growing band of child killers?

Police statistics indicate that between January 1 and the end of September this year, 34 children, 17 years and under, have been murdered – 25 boys and nine girls.

In the first eight months of the year, police report that 330 children out of a total 1,161 who were reported missing remain in the category of ‘still missing’.

A missing child is now reported under the Jamaica Constabulary Force’s Corporate Communication Unit’s Ananda Alert, named of after Ananda Dean, who went missing 12 years ago and was found mutilated near her Whitehall Avenue, St Andrew home.

No one has been charged or convicted for the murder of Dean, who was just five years old.

Similarly, there has been no significant progress in the investigation into the recent cases of Shantae Skyers, killed and dumped in a rubbish heap in Sterling Castle, St Andrew; 14-year-old Yetanya ‘Princess’ Francis, murdered and burnt in Arnett Gardens, St Andrew; or the many other outstanding cases in which children have been killed.

Betty Ann Blaine, convenor of the children’s advocacy group Hear The Children’s Cry, is questioning whether the unthinkable act of killing children is a growing trend

crucial questions

“Who are these child killers? Do we have child killers walking scot-free in our society? You cannot kill a child and not be brought before our courts and not be brought to justice. These are some of the issues that we are going to have to grapple with,” Blaine said.

It is in that light that Blaine is renewing her call for a unit to be established to probe crimes against children.

“In all the developed world and other countries, crimes against children are separated. The people working on these special investigations, they have to be specially trained, they have to know how to work with children. They have to know how to treat child victims. So it requires a special unit,” Blaine told The Sunday Gleaner.

The Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse is responsible for the investigation of sex crimes committed against children, but Blaine, while appreciative of the work being done at the unit, says more need to be done.

“We can ask for help from other countries who are already doing this, but we need to try to look at how we are going to improve these statistics. How many of these cases are cleared up? How many have been prosecuted? Nobody has been charged for these murders,” she said.

She also called for parents and the wider community to be more vigilant and even to form groups to ensure that the children are protected.