Society failing needy children

KINGSTON — As many children across Jamaica enjoy the bounty of food and gifts from adoring parents and relatives this holiday season, there are reports that more young girls and boys are being abandoned and abused by their parents.

Minister of Youth and Culture Lisa Hanna.

The Office of the Children’s Registry received 2,290 reports of child neglect between January and June 2012 – a near 28 per cent increase over the 1,791 cases reported last year.

During the period, there was an 82 per cent increase in reports of educational neglect, while reports of physical neglect, including abandonment of children by their parents, climbed by 33 per cent.

Also, there were 107 reports of child abandonment in the six-month period.

The worrying statistics were recently revealed by Minister of Youth and Culture Lisa Hanna as she provided an update on the work of the working group on children who have come in conflict with the law.

Hanna, who is taking flak from human rights groups urging her to address the problem of children in adult lock-ups and the conditions at places of safety urgently, acknowledged that the Government was unable to provide for the number of children in need of care.

“I have been among the first to acknowledge publicly that there exists a crisis in Jamaica in relation to our children,” the youth minister said.

“Children are being handed over to the State by parents who can’t provide the parental guidance and support the children they brought into the world need,” she said.

Hanna also revealed that an estimated 100,000 children, or 10 per cent of Jamaica’s children, may be suffering from a mental disorder, and that nine out of every 10 of these children with a mental disorder may go undiagnosed and untreated. (Observer)

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