THE St Andrew Central police have increased their presence in areas frequented by children in an effort to create a safer environment for them during the summer holidays .
Head of the police division Senior Superintendent Fitz Bailey, told the Jamaica Observer that 'hang-out spots' for teenagers have been under heavy surveillance.
"We have increased police presence in areas such as Devon House, the [Half-Way-Tree] Transport Centre, and the Pavilion Mall [in the Corporate Area]. We are currently looking at measures to ensure that law and order is maintained in these areas where children gather," said Bailey.
At the same time, he has appealed to parents to be aware of their children's whereabouts at all times.
Bailey's appeal came on the heels of a report from the Clarendon police that a 16-year-old was sexually assaulted by an instructor at a summer camp for inner-city youth.
Police reported that the teenager and a male instructor were caught in a compromising position. The girl subsequently informed persons at the camp that she was raped.
The police were called and the instructor arrested and is to be questioned.
Meanwhile, head of Hear the Children's Cry Betty-Ann Blaine has called for parents and guardians to be extra vigilant during the summer holidays.
In a release to the media, Blaine expressed shock and outrage at the violent murders of 10-year-old Mallica Mitchell and 13-year-old Omari Sterling, whose bodies were found in a pond at Martha Brae in Trelawny on Tuesday.
"Summer is becoming a very dangerous time for children. In fact, all school vacations are high-risk periods for youngsters, but summer most of all because of the long stretch of holiday time involved. Children are out of school, they are at home all day, and there is less supervision, sometimes none. Many parents have to work and are not at home during the days. Unfortunately, the paedophiles and other criminals know this, and are even more active during vacations. Sadly, there is a higher level of incidents against children during school holidays," she said.
She also called on parents and family members to be especially vigilant during vacation times.
"You need to know where your child is at all times, and to keep checking on him or her regularly. Be very careful about who you allow to supervise your children, do checks, and do not take chances when you are not sure," she said.
She offered the following safety tips for families:
* Take five minutes every morning and every night to pray with your child/children hug them every day and say 'I love you'.
* Know where your child is at all times.
* Know who your child's friends are and encourage them to 'hang out' at places you know are safe.
* Encourage your child to walk in a group and not alone.
* Accompany your child to and from school if possible.
* Tell your child not to stop for conversations with strangers.
* Tell your child not to allow any stranger to touch him/her.
* Tell your child not to resist a robber or gunman. Your child's life is worth more than money or goods.
* Keep an eye out for the children in your community.
* Put police emergency number 119 as a 'one-touch' on your cellphone.
— Sasha-Gay Mullings-Hyatt