Washington Boulevard. 13 June 2023: The Jamaica Baptist Union (JBU) during a meeting of its Executive Committee on June 13 expressed grave concern about the growing spate of abductions, sexual assaults and murders of our citizens, especially the elderly and children and calls for urgent action to arrest this evil.
The Union is still reeling from the shock of the most recent murder of Braeton Primary School’s eight-year-old Danielle Rowe and extends our deepest sympathies to the family and school during this unimaginably difficult time. The grief of the family and the school is our grief, and we pledge to collaborate with the Government and other stakeholders to ensure that such atrocities are not repeated.
The JBU supports the Jamaica Council of Churches (JCC) of which it is a part, in affirming that every child deserves the right to a safe and secure educational environment, free from the threat of violence or harm. The alarming rise in these heinous crimes against our children demands immediate attention from all sectors of society, including the Church.
To address this crisis, the JBU calls on all relevant authorities, stakeholders, and the wider community to collaborate and prioritize the following measures:
- Declare safe zones around schools and increase security presence within the vicinity of those schools in the mornings and afternoons when schools are dismissed.
- Strengthen security measures in schools by installing surveillance cameras, controlled access points, and regular security assessments to identify vulnerabilities.
- Establish safe routes and reliable transportation options for students, minimizing their exposure to potential risks. Reintroduce a phased special bus service for students in urban areas and increase access to the rural transportation service that exists on some routes in rural parishes.
- Introduce a comprehensive Education and Awareness Campaign as a sustained effort to educate children, parents, teachers, and the wider community about personal safety, child protection, and early warning signs of potential dangers. This can be achieved through partnerships with local organizations, faith-based institutions, and media outlets. The JBU stands ready to help with this.
We call upon all members of our churches to join in these efforts to protect our children by creating safe spaces and adopting a protective role.
As an organization with vested interest in education, the JBU is committed to collaborating with Government and all relevant stakeholders to ensure the implementation of these measures and to actively participate in initiatives aimed at safeguarding the welfare of our children.
The JBU also calls upon parents to be more acutely aware of the current violence plagued environment and make appropriate arrangements for the children to be transported and picked up on time. There is a pattern of students being abducted either on their way to or from schools.
We call on all Jamaicans to unite in this endeavor and prioritize the safety and security of our future generations.
The Jamaica Baptist Union is a leading religious organization dedicated to promoting spiritual growth, social justice, and community development. With a strong commitment to nurturing the well-being of children, the JBU actively advocates for their protection and advocates for a safe and secure environment for all.