Below is press release from Hear The Children's Cry re alarming levels of teen pregnancy and school drop outs.
... A very serious matter indeed.
PRESS RELEASE November 20, 2016
How many of these statutory rape cases are being/have been investigated?
Jamaica is a country of laws, we must enforce these laws.
Government must actively address school girl/child poverty as an important root cause of teen pregnancy.
Serious strengthening of PATH Programme, realistically increased funding to CDA, OCA, CISOCA, and support for NGOs working in child welfare field urgently needed
The current de facto acceptance of underage pregnancy as the national trend is strengthening unacceptable inter-generational poverty.
Hear The Children’s Cry, in response to this Sunday Gleaner’s report of 20 Kellit’s High School girls dropping out of school over the past two years due to pregnancies, is calling upon the authorities to say who fathered the babies, and is asking what investigations have been done to bring these perpetrators of statutory rape to justice.
“Where are the fathers of these babies?” asks the leading child advocacy organization’s Founder Betty Ann Blaine. She continues, pointing out a number of alarming aspects to a situation which may well represent a national epidemic of significant proportions:
“What investigations have been, or are being done into these cases of impregnating underage girls? Can the Child Development Agency (CDA) say how many of these cases are even being investigated at all? Statutory rape is a crime under Jamaican law. It is not enough to say that the girls involved will not reveal the names of the baby fathers – the police are required to make investigations and to carry out the law. We cannot continue to live in a country where the laws of the land are not enforced. What is the point of having the Child Protection Act call for mandatory reporting of offenses against children by citizens, if reports of such cases are not investigated?
“We are also asking the Minister of Education to let the nation know whether the situation in Kellits is representative of the national situation. How many schools across Jamaica are facing such shocking numbers of teenage pregnancies? How widespread through our land is the tragedy of school careers interrupted or curtailed due to impregnation of under aged school girls? How many young Jamaican girls are being burdened with pregnancies when they should be completing their education and preparing for earning a decent living?”
Mrs. Blaine also points out the urgent need to deal with significant root causes, such as child poverty and lack of effective family support for those in the most dire circumstances, which must also be recognized and addressed as a national priority.
“There is no doubt that this situation – in which many school children need to seek help outside of their families to survive and to attend school – is being driven by grinding levels of poverty in the poorest communities,” she notes, adding, “Here The Children’s Cry is therefore calling on the Government to make immediate and realistic efforts to strengthen the PATH Programme and to improve or add to other effective support systems for needy children and families. For example, we are calling for realistic increases in the budgets of vital child care bodies such as the CDA, CISOCA and the Office of the Children’s Advocate (CDA), as well as for more support for the NGOs working in the child welfare arena – all of which are seriously over extended and underfunded.
“Jamaica cannot continue to ignore or inadequately address vital social issues. The drastic increase in young school girls becoming pregnant and losing out on their education, and the rearing of yet another set of needy children will only worsen the continuation of intergenerational poverty and the escalating levels of crime and violence. This must be recognized as totally unacceptable by those who have undertaken to serve this nation. And they must commit to effective action without delay.”
CONTACT: Betty Ann Blaine, Founder, 294-8125 or 462-0628;
Betty Ann Blaine
Founder/Convener, New Nation Coalition
Founder, Hear The Children's Cry
Founder, Youth Opportunities Unlimited
Tel: (876) 294-8125, (876) 462-0628