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Rape fear hits schools - Irwin incident triggers islandwide reaction

Attack on children is an attack on us, says JTA

Monday, October 01, 2012    

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PRINCIPALS and teachers have reported that fear of being raped is spreading among schools islandwide, the umbrella Jamaica Teachers Association (JTA) said on the weekend.

"They reported that many children are traumatised and afraid to even leave their classrooms to go to the bathroom by themselves," the association said in a press statement Saturday.

The JTA said the "palpable fear and anxiety" triggered by the highly publicised rape of five females, including an eight-year-old in Irwin, St James, last Monday, had also affected teachers.

The JTA, meeting Saturday in General Council — its highest decision-making body outside of annual conference, "unanimously expressed strong condemnation about the recent brutal attack on the girls and women in Irwin, St James, and the general upsurge in violence against children and women in Jamaica".

The council urged the Ministry of Education and other relevant ministries to immediately provide psychologists and other professionals to assist the schools to cope with the trauma being experienced.

"Some members of the council recounted other stories about what is happening to children that they see daily, and also the impact the situation is having on the teachers and parents.

The association believes that even in the most violent societies women and children are normally spared. It is a sad commentary on our country when the future of our nation is under such attack. We believe that an attack on women is an attack on the profession as most of our members are women and all our children attend schools.

"We believe the attack on children, both the girls and boys, is also an attack on our functioning as an association as the children are among our main concerns," the JTA argued.

It called on all law-abiding citizens to make their voices heard and participate in "any positive action that would ensure that the rights and dignity of children, and their mothers and sisters are protected".

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