Corporal punishment clampdown
PRIME Minister Andrew Holness has signalled his intention to introduce new legislation to deal with the corporal punishment of Jamaica’s children.
The Holness Administration has repeatedly indicated its commitment to prohibit corporal punishment, with the prime minister underlining this position on several occasions.
On Wednesday, Holness, who was the featured guest on the monthly discussion forum ‘Let’s Connect with Ambassador Marks’, reiterated that peace and productivity are the two main areas of focus for his Administration at this time.
According to Holness, while Jamaica is not at war, there is too often an absence of peace.
“There are just too many localised conflicts, internecine wars, almost like feuds, which are costing lives. Violence has just pervaded the fabric of our society. It is becoming a feature of our brand…and we have to address this issue of violence,” said Holness as he called for a united focus on this issue.
Holness told the audience, mainly Jamaicans living in the diaspora, that a combined effort has seen Jamaica reduce political violence, which was a feature of the 1970s and ’80s, but not any more.
“We passed legislation to manage our electoral process. We put in place the Electoral Commission of Jamaica, [and] we passed laws to ensure that if violence was used in an election we could easily void the election. We took incremental action to ensure that violence was not a feature of the political system anymore, and we were successful.
“If we come together as a nation, we can be successful in dealing with domestic violence, intimate partner violence, but more importantly…violence in organised criminal activity,” said Holness as he vowed that his Administration is going to mobilise, coordinate, and direct resources towards this problem.
The prime minister argued that in addressing the problem of violence Jamaicans will also have to treat with how they discipline their children.
“That is a touchy subject, there are many religious considerations for that, but I’m certain that the biblical rod did not necessarily prescribe a stick and, therefore, we have to consider how corporal punishment is controlled in our society.
“We already have laws controlling corporal punishment, certainly at the early childhood level, but throughout the society this is something that we need to contain,” said Holness.
He added that with regard to the issue of “hate speech”, while not yet a feature in the Jamaican society, measures will be put in place to deal with this.
The prime minister noted that in many countries hate speech, which is offensive language deliberately targeted at a group or person, is treated in law and pointed out that Jamaica will have to consider legislation to deal with this.
“These are things that we are studying, but as a democracy, they will have to go through a process of social discourse so that we can treat with it,” said Holness as he urged Jamaicans in the diaspora to share their expertise and advice with family and friends at home on the importance of controlling violence.
According to Holness, Jamaica is ready to take off and is on the runway with the economic programme, which is going well, “but for it to be sustained the country has to transition to another level where we deal with this issue of violence which is destroying our peace…and then improve our productivity”.