THE Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse (CISOCA) says it is grappling with a recent explosion of cases of underage sex between young children, with over 30 reported cases in one week.
"When I say children having sex with children, I am talking about a four-year-old having sex with a six-year-old, eight and nine, 10 and 11, 12 and 12 , 13 and 13, 14 and 14 [year olds]," CISOCA's head, Superintendent Gladys Brown, said yesterday at the launch of the Child Abuse Reporting System (CARS) at the Mona Visitors' Lodge at the University of the West Indies.
She said that her team had been tackling the sexual abuse of children by adults as a priority area, but recent revelations have forced them to rethink their focus.
"We have been wearing blinkers in one direction because we thought we knew what the problem was, and suddenly we got a rude awakening -- 32 cases in seven days," she said, her horror and disgust apparent.
"This is not something I am prepared to keep to myself. I had a case yesterday where a brother and sister were having both vaginal and anal sex and then the cousin joined the group and the party became bigger," Brown noted.
"We are looking at a case of a 10-year-old girl willingly participating with her brother and cousin, who are both 12, and she goes to a prominent preparatory school in Jamaica. These are not some country children or some illiterate children who have no clue. They go to prominent prep schools," she added.
"What is happening to our children? Can we now find a way today to focus on that area?" she asked.
According to Brown, reports of children having sex with children have been flooding her office over the past two weeks, with 32 cases having been reported the second week of July alone.
However, she said that the police have a hard time dealing with the cases as the law prohibits them from holding children under 12 years old personally accountable for their actions.
"A child under 12 cannot be charged for anything, and it is even worse when they are related to each other," she said.
Brown made a strenuous appeal for civil society to curb this incestuous promiscuity among Jamaican children.
"Jamaica has to help. I am not going to lie in my bed at nights and can't sleep.
"Adults can do what they want, but children must be guided and protected. They need counselling, and I am here to beg, to plead and seek assistance from those who can do something, let us do something," she said.
The CISOCA chief also blamed adults for this depraved behaviour among their young and said that it points to a lack of proper parenting skills and supervision.
Noting that the issue is especially worrisome now that children are on their summer school break and have a lot of time on their hands, Brown urged parents and guardians to be more vigilant about keeping an eye on children under their care.
"This is not like when we were growing up in the country playing 'dollie-house', this 'dollie-house' is serious and is bigger. You have boys and girls having anal and vaginal sex, then you have the boys turning on their one another and it is all fun [for them]. They have lost their direction and some of you have to come and help," Brown entreated her audience.
CARS was launched yesterday by Help JA Children, a newly-formed children's advocate group. Owners of smartphones, specifically BlackBerrys, will be able to report cases of child sex-abuse directly to the Office of the Children's Registry by downloading CARS from BlackBerry app world.