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(JAMAICA GLEANER) – The 44-year-old mother now behind bars for the brutal beating of her preteen daughter with a machete in Bath, St Thomas, last year is also a victim, and the State should seek to resocialise, rather than criminalise her, says Damion Crawford, the newly minted opposition spokesman on youth and culture.
In a 30-second video footage, which has gone viral on social media since being unearthed over the weekend, the partially nude woman is seen using the cutlass to beat the frantic child while using expletives to relay her anger and frustration.
Many have condemned the action of the parent, with persons in the general public and users of social media calling for her imprisonment.
The woman was arrested by the St Thomas police on the weekend, and up to press time was still in custody, with the likelihood of charges being laid against her for cruelty to a child.
Yesterday, the Child Development Agency (CDA) told The Gleaner that the girl underwent counselling and was now in the care of relatives.
MOTHER FOR THE COMMUNITY
Crawford, who visited the Bath community to investigate the circumstance surrounding the ordeal, shared that while the child was a victim of the physical abuse, the parent was a victim of the Jamaican culture of discipline, and the inability to receive legitimate assistance with child-rearing.
“Everyone has confirmed that this is not an often occurrence. They’ve confirmed that the lady is almost like the mother for the community, the person who seeks to bail the young people from jail or out of trouble. So, it’s unfortunate that without adequate information, the call has been for imprisonment, which benefits neither child nor parent. The main villain, in my opinion, was the adult who chose to capture [the video] rather than intervene,” Crawford said.
He also rubbished claims of a voice recording now being circulated as that of the girl, and that she was being reprimanded for engaging in sexual activities. Crawford said the rumour was greater child abuse than the video itself.
“My information is that she is mischievous as a child, not a child participating in adult activity, as is being insinuated at this particular time. This incident happened over a year ago and is just now coming to our attention, so nobody could have indicated to me the grievance that the child carried out, but even some of the police personnel in Bath were saying they’re saddened by the outcome and the reference being made, as the lady is a good lady,” he said.
The outspoken politician suggested that a three-pronged approach be applied generally as social re-engineering against physical punishment, which has been the norm in Jamaica.
Crawford argued that as a first offence, persons should be given training in parenting and application of discipline with simultaneous assistance to the child. If the act is repeated, the second approach should be temporary separation with a fine and mandatory counselling. The third step should be jail time and permanent separation if the two previous interventions fail, added Crawford.
In declaring that there is a clear distinction between discipline and abuse, state minister with responsibility for youth in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, Floyd Green, described the video as appalling.
“While it is difficult for me to comment too much, as it is now the subject of a criminal investigation and I wouldn’t want to prejudice that, certainly anyone with good conscience who would have seen the video would be completely appalled at what transpired,” he said.
Green argued that the case speaks to a broader issue of greater need for parental intervention and guidance, something which the ministry has discussed with the National Parenting Support Commission.