60 children murdered, 99 shot and injured in past 16 months

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Penda Honeyghan reads to children from Craig Town, Kingston who are participating in mentor ship programme managed by students of the AZ Preston Hall at University of the West Indies. Sixty children were murdered and 99 shot and injured by criminals between January 2013 and May 2014, according to the latest data from the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) Statistics Department.
Police report that, in the last two months alone, seven children between the ages of 7seven and 17 years were murdered, while one was shot and injured. The Police High Command, in response to the brutal attacks has issued a call on all Jamaicans to redouble their efforts to safeguard the nation’s youth.

The police said they were also concerned about the number of youths becoming involved in gun-related crimes, citing statistics to show that, for the period January 1, 2013 to May 25, 2014, some 44 children were charged with murder, 40 with shooting and 94 with breaches of the Firearms Act. “Police intelligence suggests that gangs continue to co-opt children in their criminal organizations to commit crimes," the Police High Command reported.

"Children are routinely found to be armed with weapons of all kinds — knives, machetes, even cleverly made home-made firearms, which are believed to be supplied by criminal gangs," the police said. While the police continue to enforce the law and employ policing strategies to dissuade young people from a life of crime, parents, caregivers and communities were being urged to care for children and to seek the assistance of the police, the Child Development Agency, or other appropriate authorities where necessary. The Plolice also urged citizens to report any abuse of children or their involvement in crimes.

"Children are too precious a resource for well-thinking Jamaicans to stand by and do nothing to help them. Now more than ever, Jamaicans must unite for change; it is our civic duty to care for and protect our children," the police said.

— Kimmo Matthews

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