KINGSTON, Jamaica, Wednesday October 18, 2017 – Jamaican children are suffering at the hands of their parents, mainly mothers who dole out brutal forms of corporal punishment.
According to the Child Development Agency (CDA), infants as young as six months have been burnt with hot irons, chopped with knives or machetes, soaked with boiling water, or severely beaten with electrical cords.
The agency made the revelations in an investigative report by the Jamaica Gleaner newspaper at the height of public outrage of the video showing a mother beating her daughter with a machete.
Doreen Dyer, 44, has since been charged with cruelty to a child. The matter will be heard in court on November 15.
The CDA said the level of physical abuse children endured was worrying and, more so, the types of implements being used.
According to the CDA’s chief executive officer Rosalie Gage-Grey, from January to September of this year, the Investigations Unit received 10,267 cases; in 2016, the unit received 12,804. Of the number of cases received since the start of 2017, there was an increase in physical abuse.
“Based on reports received by the CDA’s Investigations Unit during the period 2016-2017, there is an overall increase which is at alarming levels,” he said.
She told the Gleaner that when investigators visit scenes of abuse, they are shocked by the visible scars on the bodies of children.
“We have seen pictures of babies with scars on every inch of their skin, cuts on faces, arms, legs and this is not right,” Gage-Grey said.
She explained that children were often punished for not acting on commands quickly enough, purchasing the wrong items when sent on errands, not doing homework, or being too noisy.
Gage-Grey said CDA investigators were traumatized in some cases and she insisted that the offending parents should be brought to justice.
Counselling psychologist Dr Patrece Charles attributed the social ill to Jamaica’s culture of corporal punishment.
She pointed that a majority of the parents who abuse their children were also victims of abuse.
“The cycle of abuse they are exposing their children to was taught. They don’t know a way to discipline or manage their emotions,” she said.
Another expert, child and family therapist Dr Beverley Scott expressed concern that the children are traumatized by the abuse and carry the effects of the childhood experiences throughout life.