Letters to the Editor

Sad day of Alpha home closure

Friday, April 11, 2014    

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Dear Editor,

Those of us who have had the privilege of attending an educational institution operated by nuns know, without a shadow of a doubt, that they are dedicated, hard-working and, indeed, a stickler for discipline.

It is indeed a sad day in Jamaica to find out that the Alpha Boys' Home, which has served both as a home and school for thousands of boys, will cease its residential care facilities in June 2014.

The Alpha Boys' Home started in 1891 with 16 boys and has turned out many distinguished Jamaicans, including some of Jamaica's finest musicians. The school was founded by the religious order of The Sisters of Mercy and has had a proud and illustrious record over the years. The Sisters of Mercy was founded in 1831 by Catherine Elizabeth McAuley, an Irish nun who used her inheritance to build a home for homeless women and children and provide for them care and an education.

Two reasons were given by The Sisters of Mercy for the closure of the residential care facilities. One was the failure of human capital to respond to the numerous and changing faces of the issues being displayed by the children, as well as the increase in antisocial behaviour among the children in the care system. These issues, however, are not confined to Alpha Boys' Home. In fact, the problem of antisocial behaviour within the society speaks to the moral decay that has been occurring over the years. This social ill should be a cause of grave concern for all well-thinking Jamaicans and should spur us into action to tackle this monster.

Given the fact that many of the boys who lived at Alpha Boys' Home are at-risk youth we need to ask the question, what will be their living arrangements after the closure of the residential facilities at Alpha Boys' Home?

In many instances these boys are from abusive backgrounds and should not return to such conditions. This is extremely disturbing, especially since the Ministry of Youth is reporting a 40 per cent increase in incidence of sexual abuse of children. It is extremely a sad state of affairs. Our children can't seem to catch a break.

At the same time, we must be grateful that the Alpha Boys' Home will continue to operate its day school which will provide necessary skills training and academic classes to countless number of young men who are in need of such support.

As a society, we need to thoroughly examine the situation at hand, and put in some concrete measures to stem the tide of neglect and other forms of abuse that our children encounter daily.

We need to engage our parents more in terms of having parenting workshops on a regular basis. Too many of our parents are neglecting their responsibility as parents. We cannot continue to neglect and abuse our children in this manner. Our children are the foundation of all sustainable development. As a society it is important that we do everything, despite our budgetary constraints, to enrich, protect and build the human capital of our country.

Wayne Campbell







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