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Statement by the Minister of Education Hon. Andrew Holness on the recent attacks on out Nation's Children

Release Date: 
Friday, October 3, 2008 - 15:15

I must join with the rest of Jamaica in expressing shock and outrage at the brutal and calous attacks on our children, some of whom are being targeted in or near our schools. As a society we must take this issues very seriously and move decisively to ensure that those who prey on the innocent have no refuge among us. Schools are not immune to what is happening in our soceity but we must do everything in our powers to ensure that children can feel safe and secure while at school or moving to and from school.

The Ministry will be intensifying its efforts to work through schools to sensitise parents and teachers about ways to keep children safe from predators. We must become more vigilant about how we monitor and educate children to remain safe. Parents should bear in mind simple tips such as:

    Teach your children to run away from danger, never toward it.
    Teach your children to turn around and run to you or another trusted adult if they are ever followed in a vehicle.
    Try to avoid letting your children travel alone, and always supervise your young children or make sure there is a trusted adult present to supervise them if you cannot.
    Know where your children are and whom they are with at all times. Remind children never to take anything from strangers.
    Talk openly to your children about safety

We have already started to take steps to address the issue of the safety of our schools with the recent dissemination of safety and security guidelines in schools. Ultimately we hope to have schools recognized in law as "Safe Zones". This will mean that certain acts would be prohibited and treated as criminal once committed within the designated safe zone. In the months ahead, representatives of the Ministry of Education will be discussing the Safety and Security guidelines with several stakeholder groups across the country.

More multi-agency collaboration will also be facilitated. The Ministry of Education has already had discussions with the Ministry of National Security and will be holding discussions with the Police, the Child Development Agency, the Children's Advocate and other relevant agencies. The church and community organizations will not be left out of these discussions.

 

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