Parents Alliance Jamaica is urging authorities to reevaluate safety and security procedures in all state schools after more than 60 children fell ill from consuming marijuana-laced candies bought at a school gate.
In a statement on Tuesday, the Alliance's chairman, Bishop Herro Verne Blair, stated that "more needs to be done to better monitor and manage the parameters of state schools".
He added that safety can only be enhanced when policymakers are serious about creating sterile environments for children.
"In many instances, we have been carefree with our children's health and safety for far too long, and this instance is one of them,” he noted.
“There is no way that a vendor should be able to sell products at a school gate that are clearly labelled not for sale to minors,” Blair added.
Bishop Blair said that he has been aware of ganja sweets and cakes and its effects on Jamaica’s children over the past five years.
“What has happened here is that we have allowed things to fester, to be brushed under the carpet, and then we panic when it becomes a terrible sore or a moment of undesirable consequences,” he said.
Calling for action, Bishop Blair insists that, “whether it be transporting our children in vehicles that are safe and clear of lewd music, or items sold to our children in the vicinity of the schools, we must demand action to preserve the lives and development of those we see as our future”.
The Alliance said it remains adamant about the full rollout of its proposed reforms demanding standardised security protocols, including CCTV coverage and parameter fencing around all state schools.
Bishop Blair also added that the Alliance expects any established safety standard for state schools to include systems to authorise and monitor those vending and associating around school compounds.
Parents are also being encouraged to join the Parents Alliance to contribute to the safety and well-being of their children.