Do not shield child molesters, says Senator Campbell-Rodriques

Jamaica Observer [Kingston, Jamaica]

July 24, 2021

KINGSTON, Jamaica — A call has been made by a lawmaker for Jamaicans to not protect anyone who molests or otherwise abuse the nation’s children.

“We must not lay our girls and boys carelessly exposed to evil elements. It does not matter how much power we think the abuser has,” said Government Senator Natalie Campbell-Rodriques. She made the call on Friday during her contribution to the State of the Nation Debate in the Senate. She pleaded with Jamaicans not to shield child abusers because of their status in the society.

“Whether it be a church leader, a politician, a doctor, lawyer or teacher; no one should be allowed to escape the law for abusing our most vulnerable,” Campbell-Rodriques stated.

“Safeguards must be put in place by us as caregivers to shield our children from evil and wickedness,” she added.

The government senator said she has taken note of the debate this week in the House of Representatives on the issue of corporal punishment. She said she has also noted that a corporal punishment campaign will be launched to encourage positive forms of discipline “as we cannot continue to inflict not just pain but mental trauma on our children in the name of punishment”.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness led the debate in the House on the corporal punishment issue after he made a statement on the death of four-year-old Nashawn Brown who died after being beaten with a stick by his stepfather. The child was accused of eating too slowly after he had reportedly complained of not feeling well.

Government Senator Natalie Campbell-Rodriques
Government Senator Natalie Campbell-Rodriques

The stepfather, 24-year-old Shaun Bennett of Willodene, St Catherine has since been slapped with several charges including cruelty to a child, assault occasioning bodily harm, child abuse and unlawful wounding as he also reportedly attacked the child’s mother, causing serious injuries.

According to Holness, the development has again brought to the fore, “The plight of our children as they continue to face physical, sexual and emotional abuse from the adults in their lives who have a responsibility to provide love, nurture, care and protection for these, our most vulnerable citizens”.

“The nation continues to be horrified by reports of violence and downright cruel acts being meted out to children. This should not be tolerated,” Holness declared.

According to the Prime Minister Holness, “It is important for us as a nation to have a conversation, an open and honest conversation about the effects of corporal punishment.

Meanwhile, Campbell-Rodriques said “The negative effects from this deep-rooted practice of corporal punishment is obvious in how our children relate to each other and as adults.”

“As a people, our capacity to self-regulate and resolve conflicts amicably is extremely low. When and how would we learn these skills if when as children our elders, draped, thumped, punched, whipped or yelled at us for doing what is perceived as wrong?. Would it not be better if other approaches were undertaken to reprimand and punish?” she asked rhetorically.

She also asked “How can we expect to lower the cases of domestic abuse when as youngsters we learn that those who love us most, lash out at us when they are angry?”

And Campbell-Rodriques made a special appeal to women to be “mindful of the men we let into our lives and that of our children. First priority must be a safe place for children in their homes,” she said.,_says_Senator_Campbell-Rodriques