THE Child Development Agency (CDA) has expressed frustration at the ease with which some parents try to pawn their children off on the State under the guise of being unable to cope with "uncontrollable" minors.
Director of Children and Family Programmes at the Child Development Agency Audrey Budhi told reporters and editors at the Jamaica Observer recently that increasingly parents are trying to pawn off their children on the authorities, namely her office, or the police.
She said that some of these parents use the excuse that they cannot manage their unruly children, a claim that is often proven false following checks by the agency.
"When you hear that they bring the children in for uncontrollable behaviour and so on, it's that parents just go to the police and the CDA and say they can't manage this child, or, they 'don't want this pickney, tek him, tek har', just really letting go of their parental responsibility," said Budhi.
"We are talking about them taking four-year-olds, or children who are just getting into adolescence and just leaving them (in the hands of the State)."
She said the motivation for these persons suddenly becoming "unable" to cope with their "uncontrollable" child is oftentimes painfully frivolous.
She said this is particularly so in Montego Bay and its environs, especially when large music festivals are held in that city.
"In the western [Jamaica] region our persons who deal with statistics can tell you that if you check the police stations down that side when you have festivals or any of those kinds of things, the children are there (at the police station)," Budhi said.
"They (parents) will go to Sumfest or whatever, and all of a sudden at that time the intake is so much higher," she said.
At other times, she said, parents just take off, leaving their children at the police station.
"So sometimes when we see newspaper editorials that say children are left at the police station, they [parents] will do that," Budhi said.
Chief Executive Officer of the CDA Carla Francis-Edie, commenting on the issue, said the practice is not peculiar to any one segment of the population.
"It's from all strata of society. Parenting has to be addressed," Francis-Edie said.
The CDA's claim, however, is yet to be confirmed by the police.
"I cannot confirm that trend, I haven't made that link," Superintendent Andrew Lewis of the Area One Police Division told the Observer when contacted.
However, the CDA's regional office for the St James area contends that its research shows that "there is a definite trend".
According to data on the website of the Office of the Children's Registry, between 2007 and 2011, there were 11,599 reports of child neglect, 10,434 reports of children in need of care and protection and 6,034 reports of children exhibiting behavioural problems.
In its parish by parish breakdown of figures, Kingston and St Andrew had the highest statistics on childneglect, with 909 being reported between 2007 and 2001, followed by St Catherine with 640 reports, and St James with 340.