Where do the children play?

BY SIMONE MORGAN Observer staff reporter morgans@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

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THIS month marks five years since the Ananda Alert, a nationwide system designed to ensure a speedy and safe recovery of missing children, was launched.

According to Julia Smiley-Green, public relations officer at the Office of the Childrenâs Registry (OCR), the system has been working.

OCR figures show, during the first quarter of this year, 502 children were reported missing.

"Of that number, 309 have returned home -- 80 males and 229 females," Smiley-Green told the Jamaica Observer.

But not all have been that fortunate as two were found dead and 193 are still unaccounted for.

Members of the entertainment fraternity have seen the protection of children as an issue worth highlighting.

In 1997, Everton Blender was moved to cover Cat Steven's Where Do The Children Play while similar sentiments were echoed by female singjay Ruffian in her 2009 social commentary Save the Juvenile.

Roots singer Droop Lion drove home his point in Ananda Alert, which was released last May.

"The song is a sad reality that needs to be addressed. Sometimes these matters get brushed under the carpet. This is wrong," he said.

Fourteen-year-old Jody-Ann Gordon is among the missing. She has not been seen since May 6. Her family, despite having sleepless nights, is hoping for her safe return.

"We were told that she was spotted in Spanish Town, but that's all to it. The police are working on the case and we do hope that she will be returned home safely," said her sister Assana Campbell.

Campbell said she last saw her sister on the morning she left for school.

Veteran singer George Nooks said the issue of children's safety should be kept on the front burner.

"Our children are the future. Instead of making music about trivial stuff, artistes should zone in on these powerful social commentaries. The more songs are in listener's ears, the more the message will be emphasised," he said.

The Ananda Alert was named after 11-year-old Ananda Dean, who went missing on September 17, 2008 and was murdered. Her body was found in the bushes of Belvedere in St Andrew on September 28, 2008. Investigators have not closed the case.




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