(Jamaica Gleaner) Criminals in Jamaica have ruthlessly murdered more than 1,500 children and teenagers since the turn of the 21st century.
The number of child/teen killings between 2001 and 2010 could have easily doubled, as statistics published by the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) show that 1,600 more were gunshot victims.
Noted academic and chairman of the Early Childhood Commission, Professor Maureen Samms-Vaughan, believes a study on the number of children murdered per capita in Jamaica is needed.
Betty-Ann Blaine, convenor of Hear the Children’s Cry, believes successive governments have avoided commissioning a review of the number of children murdered per capita in Jamaica because the results would be shameful. “I think the authorities are afraid to do it (because) the picture would be bad. The Government will not initiate it because it will be embarrassing for them,” she said.
At the same time, Samms-Vaughan argued that the study should not be undertaken merely to unearth numbers but to get an understanding of child killings so that appropriate intervention measures can be crafted to remedy the problem.
“It is something that we should be checking. We really should be monitoring it,” Samms-Vaughan told The Sunday Gleaner.
She added: “Monitoring it against international data allows us to see if we are doing well in comparison to other countries and we can learn from other people’s interventions.”
The professor cautioned that Jamaica’s high per capita murder rate does not necessarily translate to high per capita murder figures for children. In 2005, Jamaica had 1,674 murders, and the highest murder rate, per capita, in the world. Four years later, in 2009, Jamaica – with a population of 2.7 million – recorded 1,680 murders for a national record, ranking 21st in the world.
According to data from the PIOJ’s annual Economic and Social Survey of Jamaica (ESSJ), Jamaican children are not only being killed, but they are also killing. Between 1996 and 2001, some 629 recorded murders were committed by youths 17 years old and younger.
That same age group was responsible for a total of 4,523 recorded major crimes – murder, shooting, rape/carnal abuse and robbery – during the same period.