KINGSTON, Jamaica: The Office of the Children’s Advocate (OCA) is trying to find out whether criminals or members of the security forces were responsible for injuring 30 children during fighting in the May unrest in Tivoli Gardens.
Deputy Children’s Advocate Justice Henderson Downer says children ranging from age one to 17 were hurt in the armed conflict.
“We have the information, but not the detailed evidence of the injuries,” said Justice Downer. “We have asked our two investigators to go into Tivoli Gardens because we have a list of children who are injured…What we have asked them to do, is to find out how the injuries took place.”
Downer said the probe would include obtaining medical evidence in order to determine the quantity of compensation which will be sought for the children.
In addition, Children’s Advocate Mary Clarke reiterated her concerns for the welfare of children in the West Kingston community.
“We are concerned, because children have been traumatized and we know the impact of trauma on children when it begins to manifest itself into inappropriate behaviour,” she said.
However, Clarke said she was very pleased with the level of intervention being carried out by various agencies, including the Ministry of Education.
“They (Ministry of Education) have taken on the counseling fully and they are even trying to get a fulltime psychiatrist in the area,” said Clarke.
The Children’s Advocate stressed that the children must be treated and counseled within their families in order to ensure sustained healing, noting that “if you take the children and you try to heal and restore them and they go back to family members who are still bitter and angry, it may not last”.
Clarke said the OCA was particularly interested in children who have lost their main breadwinner due to the unrest in Tivoli Gardens, and is seeking to provide those youngsters with assistance from the relevant institutions.