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We need to protect our children

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22.FEB.11

It is interesting to note the different reactions we have had from the society to two sets of news which were made public last week. Tongues are wagging and airwaves buzzing, as everyone tries to put in a word about them.{{more}}

We first heard from officials at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital that eleven girls, between 10 and 14 years of age, gave birth last year. This news hardly caused a ripple. Are we to assume that this has become so commonplace that such information no longer evokes a response? It is unlikely that the males involved are also children, so we are looking here at statutory rape, and perhaps in some cases, incest.

Last week, too, rumours spread like wild fire that three male teachers had been questioned by police on allegations of buggery and acts of gross indecency between members of the same sex. It is also alleged that students are involved in the offences about which the men were questioned. The response from the public was immediate, predictable and inflammatory.

What is interesting is that very few persons seem to be focusing on what is the larger matter in the public interest here, the fact that adults, entrusted with the care of minors, may have violated that trust. The focus seemed to be on the salacious details and in the case of the buggery allegations, evoking narrow homophobic responses.

Both cases are similar and are related to a matter raised in the House of Assembly by Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr. Douglas Slater – paedophilia, and the need to protect our children. Our children, whether boys or girls, must be allowed to be children and given space to grow up, without sexual molestation and abuse by adults. It is a serious cancer eating away at the very fabric of our society.

In the case of underage pregnancies, it is a fact that, over the years, the vast majority of these cases are as a result of adult males impregnating the girls. Yet, precious few find their way into the justice system and often, parents of these girls are part of the cover-up conspiracy. We simply have to find the will to deal with the offenders. The same zeal we can muster to amend legislation to prevent abuse of the court system, must be marshalled to prevent sexual abuse of our minors.

As for the allegations of teachers’ buggery of young students, the classic response over the years has been to transfer such teachers. We are as timid in dealing with the problem as we are in confronting sex offenders in religious garb. It is high time that we put the hypocrisy aside and face up to our responsibilities. It is a grave social problem that we must all face. Protecting our children from sexual predators is a number one priority.

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