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We must observe mandatory reporting requirements


Thursday, October 05, 2017

History would show that slavery was abolished in 1838. Are we still shackled by the chains of slavery? To keep slaves in order and well-behaved flogging was used as a tool by slave masters and rich plantation owners. Depending on the seriousness of the offence, slaves would get a certain number of lashes with a whip made from cowhide.

Fast-forward 180 years later and I am deeply saddened by the gruesome flogging of a minor that took place recently in St Thomas. As a parent, I must clearly and unequivocally condemn the recent beating of the St Thomas young lady by her mother. It is rather unfortunate that her temporary insanity (my deduction) resulted in such a cruel and gruesome act. The mere fact that she used a machete to apply bodily harm to her own daughter and dog indicates that she is not fit for parenting at this time.

According to the Child Development Agency, “Child abuse is an act, or failure to act, on the part of a parent or caretaker, which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse, or exploitation of a child. The definition goes further to say any act, or failure to act, which presents an imminent risk of serious harm to a child also counts as child abuse.

In light of this, I felt compelled to listen to the words of the mother as she beat her child on the video, “Mi tired a unnu, mi tired a you.” This was seemingly not a first episode. And, if we are to be guided by her modus operandi in the video in question, it would be reasonable to infer that this severe method of punishment is a common practice. Perhaps, not with a machete, but with 2x4 boards, belts, electrical cords, which were not sending a strong enough message. But what is next? And, if this doesn't work, what next will she try? Acid, hot water, kerosene?

While this case was extreme, how many times, as old school parents, do we amplify our old school generational challenges, expressing boldly that “today generation have it easy...we used to have to walk 10 miles to school barefooted...we used to have to cut our exercise books in half... and we used to get beatings cause it made us better off.”

A recent study at Yale University proved that the pathology of beatings festers in the psychic wounds of parents who too were beaten as a child and have not received any form of treatment for the permanent psychological damages.

I have full confidence in our justice system and child welfare agencies, as such I am confident that the relevant charges will be laid and actions taken to prevent any further emotional and psychological damages. As we move forward I ask that we sensitise and implement mandatory reporting laws where needed. In this case, it was a crime for the 'videographer' to have this recording for over a year before sharing. It would have been a crime for teachers to see her coming to school with bruises and cuts and not report the matter. It was a crime for the people in her community to hear her bawling for mercy as her mother whipped her mercilessly, and not make a report. In the United States and Canada, designated professionals and caregivers are required by law to report child abuse and neglect. These parties are usually in frequent contact with children: teachers, doctors, coaches, dentist, school workers, social workers, etc.

I dare not mention my recommendation for the mother, because if what she did was to her own flesh and blood, can you imagine a stranger. All I will say is, the daughter is not the only one who needs help. Her mother clearly needs intervention and help also.

As a father with a daughter, I was brought to tears a the sight of the beating of the young lady by her own mother. I wish to remind Jamaicans of our duty to report as citizens.