No signs of abuse
Child Care Board explains Jahan’s injuries
The bruises around the eye of the six year old Jahan King were the result of allergies, and there were no signs of physical abuse when officers of the Child Care Board (CCB) examined the boy, the state-run child protection agency has said.
The boy was rushed to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) by ambulance on Sunday June 28 and died early the following morning. His maternal grandmother, Margaret Gill, has contended that he had been abused, seemingly by his mother, Lasonta Gill and her boyfriend, Dwayne Marshall, and that the CCD had failed to act. Photographs circulating on social media appeared to support the claim, with some showing Jahan with bruises and a swollen eye.
However, in an interview with Barbados TODAY Child Care Board Chairman Kenneth Knight revealed that that records obtained from a medical examiner revealed no signs of abuse.
“The child was reported by the grandmother in terms of incurring these bruises. We did call in the family and . . . the child was taken to a physician, [he] was examined, they returned with a certificate from the registered medical practitioner indicating that in his view the bruises which occured or were seen around the child’s eye were the result of allergies, and there were no sort of traumatic wounds, which were visible. This was the view of the medical practitioner in the certificate that was presented to the Child Care Board,” Knight said.
He said that sometime in May the child was reported to have sustained a broken hand, later diagnosed as a fractured finger, and family members, including the child, were interviewed.
Knight said it was determined that the injury was sustained when Jahan fell while alighting from a bus.
“. . . the child said he fell from a bus. He jumped off the bus and it is there where he incurred the wound. Apparently his hand was set in a cast and as a result of this, it was determined that he jumped off. He did say this to the officer,” reported the agency boss.
He added that the grandmother reported to the board that the boy had a history of jumping off buses, and this was not the first time he had fallen while doing so.
“So seeing that this was an established pattern with the young man in jumping off buses . . . . On this occasion he got hurt and this was attributed to the last case that we saw him,” Knight recalled.
The child protection agency head revealed that Jahan and his grandmother were at the CCB office on Friday, June 25, just three days before his death, and he did not exhibit any signs that suggested that anything was wrong with him.
In fact, he said the boy was “very” playful, did not sit in a chair but walked around the office, and behaved like “any normal six year old would” during the visit.
He defended his officers who examined Jahan during the last visit, saying they followed the correct procedures and they found no signs of abuse.
“Of course in these situations you do stick a red flag and you follow through on the process. And it was clear to me and the other board members that the officers attending to the particular case had followed the various processes and protocols required in a case like this,” he argued.
“As you can appreciate, the child care officers, they . . . are not there as a policeman, they are there to keep families together, to get to the depth of the problem and I believe with their knowledge of such situations, I think that they were on the right track in terms of what they were trying to establish. Was this child being abused?”
The chairman also pointed out that after Jahan died, all officers, including Director Joan Crawford, were interviewed as part of an internal investigation. In the end, he said the CCB could not pronounce on the cause of death.
“We do not know what this child died from. We speculate. We do not know the cause of death. We have to be very careful, especially as a statutory agency, how we react to these circumstances and particularly as it relates the release of information . . . . You may have the post mortem done and you may have a coroner’s inquest which takes a legal framework and that’s where the law steps in.”
A post mortem on Jahan’s body was carried out today and the results are pending.