As Americans pay homage today to the warriors who gave their lives in defense of their country, no one will be talking about the victims of an equally deadly “war” – the brutal abuse of children by vicious, depraved – or in some cases merely thoughtless – adults around the world. But these helpless victims deserve to be remembered. The world cannot be considered civilized as long as mankind oppresses and abuses – or neglects – its young.
So many images flash through my mind – unimaginable cruelty from films like “Slum Dog Millionaire” … reports from Florida’s youth detention centers … the persistent practice of sexual and physical abuse revealed in investigations of the Catholic Church … Surely, this is a manifestation of the forces of evil, an offensive in the struggle that defines the human condition, that in the final analysis determines who shall inherit the earth.
These angry and painful thoughts were inspired today by the following blog about five Jamaican girls who perished Friday night in a fire at the juvenile correction center where they were being held. It was written by my friend and colleague, Jean-Lowrie Chin. Its title is “Five Lost Girls.”
‘Betta mi did mek her stay pon di road’ – These were the words of Prudence Doeman, mother of 15-year-old Shauna-Lee Kerr as she mourned her daughter, one of the five teenagers who lost their lives in the tragic fire at the Armadale Correctional Centre in St Ann.
(For details, see: www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/html/20090523T200000-0500_152107_OBS_TRAGEDY_.asp )
There will be a Commission of Inquiry into the incident, but the deeper inquiry must happen in the hearts of every Jamaican.
If we had a more caring society, if we had a support system for parents and children in crisis, could these girls have been rehabilitated while remaining in the bosom of their families?
This chaka-chaka approach to the biggest social problem of Jamaica – the breakdown of family – must be addressed. Until we fix that, nothing else can work.
Rest in Peace –
We should have loved you more.
Love… That is the heart of the matter. Do we really love our children? For they are all our children – black and white and every other shade and ethnic origin. And until we love them all, we cannot claim to be truly human.