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DIRECTOR for the South East Region of the Child Development Agency (CDA) Noel Stennett, has expressed concern over recent reports by the police that an increasing number of children are being found wandering the streets at nights.
"That children are found wandering the streets at nights is a concern for the Agency as this exposes them to danger. Parents, civic-minded individuals, and groups must also exert themselves to ensure that our children are safe and that parents and guardians live up to their responsibilities," Stennett told the Jamaica Observer on Tuesday.
The CDA regional director was responding to a news report quoting Senior Superintendent of Police Steve McGregor, head of the Kingston Central Police Division, as saying that parents/guardians will be arrested and jailed if their children are found wandering the streets. He also said there has been an increase in the number of children found roaming the streets late at night.
Stennett, while shying away from giving complete backing to the senior lawman's stance, pointed out that the Child Care and Protection Act, under Section 9(1), states that a person commits an offence if that person, "being an adult and having custody, charge or care of any child wilfully ...neglects, abandons or exposes such child".
"This makes it clear that anyone with a guardianship role has the responsibility to ensure the safety of the child under his or her charge," he said.
He was, however, cautiously lenient in his prescription.
"While there are punitive sanctions for failing to exercise the custodial responsibility, it would also seem desirable that initial breaches could be dealt with through training and involvement in some practical measures which would lead parents to fulfil their parental responsibilities in a manner that does not negatively impact the best interest of the child," he told the Observer.
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