Manchester leaders mourn for children

MANDEVILLE, Manchester — It was a sombre mood here on Friday as political, civic and security leaders joined educators and students at the deCarteret College in observing a National Day of Mourning for the nation’s children.

Custos of Manchester Garfield Green, who organised Manchester’s observance of the day, said the attacks on children, including the reported abduction and murder of eight-year-old Danielle Rowe, shows the level of cruelty in society.

“This senseless crime has touched the hearts and core of every well-thinking citizen and we, therefore, saw the need for a National Day of Mourning. As we mourn the loss of innocence, childhood and the loss of precious lives that have been taken away by crime and violence against children, let us remember those affected by these acts of criminality,” said Green as he charged that countless Jamaican children have been victims of heinous crimes and violent acts.

“These young lives full of potential and promise are being cut short by the actions of those who have no respect for the sanctity of life. The pain of their families and loved ones is immeasurable. We must do everything in our power to protect our children and keep them safe from harm. We must work together to create a culture of love, safety and security.

“The callousness of some of our people, it is imperative that we start protecting peace, love, compassion, tolerance, respect and understanding from a young age,” added Green.

Over the years, some children in Manchester have witnessed and been affected by violent crimes, particularly domestic violence.

Green said the Manchester beliefs, values and attitudes (BVA) programme, aimed at facilitating attitudinal change and social revitalisation, has expanded its outreach to include more children.

“We are trying to be proactive in our rescue of the social issues we are faced with on a daily basis. Through the BVA we train students to promote peace among themselves and to reduce tension among their peers. Parents and community members are invited to give support,” said the custos.

“No child should ever have to suffer in silence or be denied the opportunity to live a happy and fulfilling life, it is often said that children are our future, but let us look at the present they are our now,” added Green.

He encouraged citizens to let the National Day of Mourning influence the future in protecting children.

In the meantime, vice-principal of deCarteret College Marlon Britton pointed to a societal issues needed to protect the children.

“What is happening in our country is really bad and as a nation we have to stop and really think [about] what we are doing. We embrace the notion of the village raising the child, it seems as if something has gone wrong with the village,” said Britton, while calling for an embrace of the BVA and other initiatives.

“We really look forward to working with our partners to get [the initiatives] instilled in our school and the wider community to create a safer environment for our students and our children,” added Britton.

Jamaicans were encouraged to wear black, engage in individual or group moments of silence, turn on of headlights and toll church bells at noon on Friday in observance of the National Day of Mourning for the nation’s children.