Friday 30th May, 2008

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Always have hope

And when will this regime

realise that it has to strengthen its political will and pull up its governmental socks if we are to escape from the chamber of horrors that presently entraps us?

Our country has developed a reputation for expressing outrage at horrific events and then doing very little in terms of follow up action. We claim to be a caring society, always ready to shed buckets full of tears and extend condolences to the families who lose loved ones in tragic circumstances but in the end, after much verbal outpouring, it is back to business as usual.

There are those who refuse to fall into the category of ‘talk shoppers’ and it is imperative that these activists get the ball rolling swiftly in the direction of protecting the nation’s youth.

Laws alone will not solve the problem but we do need to upgrade the statutes in order to ensure that the legislation is not outdated or ineffective in light of current trends and prosecutorial challenges.

So while I agree with the statement of Social Development Minister Dr Amery Browne that “the law alone cannot protect the welfare of children” it must be recognised that legislation in the specific area of child protection is sadly lacking.

Minister Browne also stated that “to even use what happened to this child, which to our information there was no warning or red flag or any indication that the person known to the family would have done this, to link that to any political threat is worthy of condemnation” is a premature chastisement which appears contrary to information volunteered by members of the family of the man who killed Hope Arismandez.

However, the matter is currently before the Court and so it would be inappropriate to challenge the Minister on the point of ‘no warning signal’ at this stage. The facts will speak for themselves and the Minister is best advised to stick to his script of advising the public on the laws that the Government intends to pass, hopefully soon, to deal with matters affecting the rights and safety of children.

Children at risk

Yes there are monsters among us, and that having been said, what are we doing to capture and prevent them from preying on our vulnerable children?

Acknowledgement is given to all the interest groups and organisations that lobby for laws and policies to be implemented to protect our youth.

And gratitude is extended to those who work assiduously, although not in the glare of the cameras, to do their part in preventing cruelty to children.

But the effort has to be sustained, intense and holistic if significant strides are to be made. The entire society has to come forward and give assistance.

Admittedly, when everything seems hopeless and people feel helpless, it is difficult to muster the troops to fight in the name of Good for the sake of country.

But now is when real leaders have a critical role to play.

Those who want to command the soldiers must by their example show that they are prepared to enter the battlefield and face the enemy head on.

Running away, for whatever reason, including financial reward or academic advancement is not acceptable at a time when our nation is looking for individuals to bravely take the helm and guide us out of this frightening storm of unending criminal activity.

Caught sleeping

With the advent of crimes targeted at young people such as internet pornography, child prostitution and human trafficking, the public must be confident that this administration is not caught sleeping while on duty.

The Opposition is well within its rights and is in fact duty-bound to call on the Government to give priority to the children’s legislation.

And I must commend, on this particular matter, Siparia MP Kamla Persad-Bissessar who for years has stated that more has to be done by this Government to protect the nation’s youth.

Persad-Bisessar is a veteran politician who is a mother and grandmother and should not be the subject of negative comment for her utterances on a subject that touches every emotional vein in the human body.

And unlike so many others, she has been a tireless advocate for the protection of children.

So instead of attempting to gag those on the opposite side, the Government is best advised to rely on the expertise of its legal minds and allow them to take the fore in order to have the package of Children’s legislation debated and passed swiftly.

And since we all agree that laws alone are insufficient to address the problem, while the legislation is in the House, plans should be put in place to ensure that the laws can be enforced.

Away with murder

What are we as a nation expected to do when we are confronted with a crisis that strikes at the very heart of our societal responsibility to protect the young and vulnerable?

How are we to cope with escalating criminal activity that includes violent and heinous acts by persons who are unafraid of the repercussions of their transgressions?

And when will this regime realise that it has to strengthen its political will and pull up its governmental socks if we are to escape from the chamber of horrors that presently entraps us?

Parents, guardians and those who have the care, control and responsibility of young persons must be sufficiently educated about their roles and brought up to speed about the telling signs that suggest all is not right with the children in their custody.

Schools must be given the necessary and experienced personnel to assist in identifying those children who are at risk and in need of special care and attention.

The police have to be sensitive and discerning when reports are made about child abuse and to err on the side that a reported complaint is worthy of investigation.

We cannot turn a blind eye to what is happening in our society or pretend that the situation is under control.

For the sake of all the young children who have been victims of child killings and the peace of mind of all citizens, we call on the Government to do what it takes to rid our country of predators who are having a field day, committing atrocious acts and in many instances, getting away with murder.

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