A sad way for another child to goWednesday, July 21, 2021
It is of little consolation to us, as we are sure it is to the family of young Nashawn Brown, that a man said to be his stepfather has been charged in connection with injuries inflicted upon him, which may have led to his death. But the first block in the construction of justice has been laid.
Indeed, we are still in a state of shock, as are so many Jamaicans at home and abroad — and even people who have no connection to the island whatsoever — that another child has needlessly and senselessly met his demise under circumstances that, on the surface, seem quite bizarre.
To back up a bit, Nashawn, aged just four — preparing himself mentally for the long, arduous years ahead when he would realise the jottings of objectives he would have made as a youth to later transform them into workable realities in adulthood — was, from initial reports, beaten with a stick by his stepfather, named as Mr Shaun Dee Benett — a man 20 years older than Nashawn.
And what was Nashawn's crime? The small matter of his eating too slowly, we are told, which seemed to have irritated the man now charged with unlawful wounding, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, cruelty to a child, and child abuse. Somehow, we are inclined to think that the charge of murder, or manslaughter, would have been at the top of that list, but we watch with humongous curiosity to see whether or not adjustments will be made by the police and prosecutors. A post-mortem examination, too, would no doubt solve outstanding riddles that may prevail.
If the beating of Nashawn were not enough, we also heard that the child's mother was also injured by the man charged, after she, as any well thinking and loving mother would have done, went to the boy's rescue. She remains in hospital, recovering well, we hope, from the wounds inflicted.
What a terribly scarred society in which we live! Violence against children continues unabated and it is as if some of us fail to grasp what the seriousness of our actions can lead to.
From all accounts, the lad was not feeling well, as he sat to consume a meal. But even if he had been in great shape and decided to eat slowly he should not have been the subject of any act of punishment.
The days of inflicting physical blows on children, corporal punishment as it is formally known, because they do not always fall in line with stipulations laid down by adults should be over by now.
There are arguments for and against whipping, or beating, as a form of punishment. Some maintain that doling out physical blows on children allows them to fall in line and ultimately become mature and responsible adults, while others say that the activity only prepares children to be brutal and aggressive when they grow older. The level of crime and violence in the society will definitely tip the scales in favour of those who moot the second point.
We will await further developments in the matter which involves Nashawn Brown, but in the meantime we must urge adults to take great care in how they decide to punish children; for the final act may return to haunt them.
A trial awaits Mr Shaun Dee Benett, and this newspaper will be following closely what emerges from it, and what lessons may be learnt.
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