Child Protective and Family Services Agency CEO Rosalee Gage- Gray speaking at the Diaspora Day of Service Protect the Children Symposium at the University of Technology, Jamaica yesterday. (Michael Gordon).
A report that an 11-year-old schoolgirl had been given the choice of either being knocked out or killed after she was abducted and raped in Manchester, allegedly by a 15-year old boy on Wednesday this week, shocked participants at a child protection symposium yesterday.
The girl, who has since been hospitalised, was reportedly abducted while on her way home from school in the community of Knockpatrick.
She was eventually recovered after someone found her school bag, took it to her school to teachers who went looking for her in the area where the bag had been found.
“This week, we got a report of a child, again, coming home from school, that was abducted and sexually assaulted, and what was very striking to me is that she was given a choice, after this act was done by another child... as to whether she wanted to be knocked out or to be killed.
She chose to be knocked out,” Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA) CEO Rosalee Gage-Gray said in her address at the second staging of the Diaspora Day of Service Protect the Children Symposium.
Hosted by the Female Development World Organisation and Eve For Life at the University of Technology, Jamaica, the symposium examined issues such as child abuse, human trafficking, and domestic abuse.
“When a child is given that kind of a choice in a situation where she was just going home from school, having just done exams, it is what we are grappling with as a country,” Gage-Gray added.
The boy accused of the crime has since been taken into custody and while, the incident is still being investigated, the CPFSA head said that it is quite alarming that both the victim and the accused are children and both needed of serious help.
Gage-Gray said that although it might sound cliché, child protection and the welfare of children should be a responsibility of everyone.
She noted that 15,000 cases of child abuse were reported last year, and that a significant number of them either relate to neglect or sexual abuse.
However, she said that the agency has started going into communities to work with families on the ground to offer support, to prevent further sexual abuse, and to address the issues of under-reporting, which is suspected to happening in some parishes such as St Thomas and Portland.