Issue: Armadale - a wake-up call to the Church
On February 24, I watched parts of CVM TV's 'Direct' and TVJ's 'All Angles' and was struck by the fact that both programmes were focusing on the Armadale commission of enquiry report that was leaked to the media recently.
What really hit me was the fact that the guests on both programmes hit the same chords in bemoaning the negatives and shortcomings of the Department of Correctional Services, the Child Development Agency (CDA) and the juvenile and childcare facilities in Jamaica.
They were also lamenting the perceived failure of the Government to respond speedily and decisively after receiving the report over a month ago.
It seems to me that the Government has put in place so many operational and policy agencies to oversee the care and protection of our children that they are not really working.
There is the CDA, the Department of Correctional Services and children's homes that form part of the operational aspect of the Government's thrust to care for children.
There is also the Office of the Children's Advocate that should be a kind of policymaking and oversight authority with respect to children's rights, care and protection.
Why allow all these bodies to exist if they are not producing results?
After I was finished watching the two programmes, I thought about the implications of the Armadale enquiry report for the Church in Jamaica, which targets children for 'ministry' and care.
I shuddered when I thought about the possibility or probability that there might be children under the care of the Church who are also being abused and misused, whose human rights are being neglected and whose dignity is being crushed.
This, I felt, was unthinkable!
I believe that it is high time for the Government to become more vigilant in operationalising the Child Care and Protection Act.
This includes ensuring that children under the care of any entity should be overseen by trained and certified caregivers.
Where the Church is concerned, this means that Sunday school and Sabbath school teachers and children church workers who deal with children in all denominations should be certified by both the Church and the Government for this special task.
Some might scoff at my suggestions, but I think the Armadale report is a wake-up call for us all, including the Church.
I am, etc.,
REV EARLMONT WILLIAMS