Parents Encouraged Not To Give Up On Their Children

Jamaica Information Service (JIS)

Parents are being encouraged not to give up on their children who may get into trouble with the law, but continue to love and support them.

This call comes from Senior Legal Policy Officer, Office of the Children’s Advocate (OCA), Marsha Baker, who stressed that parents need to love their children, “regardless of what they have done or said to have done.”

“Parents need to stand by their children. It is not the Government’s responsibility; it is not the OCA’s responsibility…It is your responsibility, and because the child may be in conflict with the law doesn’t mean that that is the end of the child, because children can in fact come back from things like that,” she said.

Miss Baker was speaking at a seminar on the roles and responsibilities of parents of children in conflict with the law, held at the Management Institute for National Development (MIND), in St. Andrew, on November 2.

The Senior Legal Policy Officer explained that a child in conflict with the law is normally the subject of criminal investigation (which is when they are at the suspect stage), or he or she has been charged with an offence. A child in conflict with the law may also be convicted of a criminal offence and therefore the subject of a correctional order, or a sentence by the court.

Miss Baker emphasised that parents of children in trouble with the law should seek counselling and psychosocial intervention for them, so that they do not reoffend.

“We have had too many instances where parents say ‘nutten nuh do di pickney, him nuh need counselling’, when in fact sometimes children act out and therefore become in conflict with the law, because of things that have been done to them, things that their parents know nothing about,” she said.

She added that parents should therefore be proactive and take the necessary precautions when they see their child “going down a particular road,” advising them to utilise the services of the Child Guidance Clinic, which is free of cost.

“Because the child is in conflict with the law, does not mean that your parental rights, your parental responsibility and role go through the window, because the child has now committed an offence,” she said.

Miss Baker further advised that parents must also see to it that their child not only attends court, but that they accompany him or her.

She also warned parents to be wary of adults who may shower their children with gifts as a means of getting them involved in illegal activities, citing the example of the lottery scam in which many young persons are involved.

The seminar was hosted by The Care Foundation, which comprises a group of administrative professionals from various Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies, as part of fulfilment for a Diploma in Administrative Management at MIND.