More than symbolism

MONTEGO BAY, St James — Custos of St James, Bishop Conrad Pitkin is hoping that the prayers of protection recited over the heads of students at Corinaldi Avenue Primary School in Montego Bay on Friday, and all the expressions of concern, will be more than just platitudes.

“Let me ask us not to allow today to be just a day of symbolism where we are gathered in this form. This is a call to action, a call to save our children, a call to save our home, a call to save our nation, and a call to save our future,” he declared as St James joined the rest of the country in a National Day of Mourning for Jamaica’s children who have been victims of violence and abuse.

The ceremony included the sombre observance of a minute’s silence in memory of eight-year-old Danielle Rowe whose barbaric murder sent shock waves through the country. Her death, stacked on top of all the other children who were murdered or abused before her, rattled even some of the most jaded.

Speaking with the Jamaica Observer after the ceremony in Montego Bay on Friday, Pitkin spoke of the role that the parish’s more than 1,000 justices of the peace have to play in keeping children safe.

“The impact that we can make in this regard is tremendous,” he declared.

“Once most of us catch on to this, we can make a tremendous impact in the protection of the lives of our children. They are the future of our nation who will become the next governor general, prime minister, leader of the Opposition, principals, doctors, and I could go on. They have a right to safety, they have a right to be loved and right to be cared for — and the justices can contribute in that regard,” he added.

He urged everyone to get involved.

“Let us work together to save our communities from the heinous crimes in order for us to live in a community where every boy and every girl can feel safe in their spaces, where our children can play on the streets again,” he appealed.

Pitkin made it clear that violence against children is unacceptable.

“We hope there is never a similar case to what happened to Danielle Rowe,” he said.

Little Danielle was picked up from school on June 8, then found on the road with her throat slashed. Despite valiant attempts to save her, she died two days later in hospital with tears running down her cheeks.