Many children in the Caribbean have seen, and experienced some of the most tragic events in their young lives. Many of these tragic events are committed by adults. Within weeks apart, two female students were brutally murdered near their communities- Shante Claxton (14yrs, St. Kitts and Nevis) and Aleisha Brown (13yrs, Trelawny, Jamaica).
The death of a child is devastating for the victim’s family, friends and community on a whole. The call to end violence against girls must be seen as a violation against humanity. Additionally, the increase in child sexual abuse – in particular rape and incest, should signal that we should educate our girls and boys on their rights as human beings and citizens.
On September 30th, 2014, the Caribbean region celebrated Caribbean Youth Day. The theme “Embracing Technology to promote innovative and sustainably conscious” presented a forum by which youth across the region were able to voice their concerns on a number of issues that affect their daily lives. Some of their concerns included unemployment, limited career opportunities, lack of community programs, and the violation of their civic and human rights.
UNICEF and other children’s rights organizations have continued to advocate and educate various nations on the rights of children. These rights are to be recognized universally to protect children and youth. It is also the responsibility of regional nations to implement effective policies that will curb the level of violence that specifically targets young girls.
The Caribbean, as a whole, is beginning to understand the impact of youth development within their respective societies. Many are of the view that there is a close correlation between youth development and nation-building. As a result, youth development and capacity building for Caribbean youth have become an integral aspect for policy-makers.
A number of Caribbean countries have developed solutions to help reduce the level of violence against children. One such approach is based on the implementation of human rights programs in schools’ curriculum. This can provide them with the knowledge of their rights and procedures to take when such rights are being violated.
As developing societies, we should engage youth on policies that have direct effects on their lives and development. We have too many of our youth are unaware of their rights and what they should do when their rights are violated. Many female victims are still blamed when they are raped.
We need a paradigm shift in which girls are seen as human beings, and not as sexual objects. We need to also educate our boys to protect our girls; and conversely. Mentoring programs are also an effective alternative to teach our youth on how to care, and be responsible for each other.
Violence against Children in the Caribbean is Preventable! Act Now And SAVE A Child