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Law Enforcement and Child Protection

By Cpl. 125 Constantine

Many will agree that the care and protection of children is a responsibility that must rest with everyone within the society. All children deserve to be happy, healthy and protected from harm. In addition, specific laws protect the rights of children, which can be considered the first step towards ensuring our children can live safely and securely.

The main piece of legislation protecting children is the Children and Young Persons Act, 1972. It specifies various offences that can be committed against children, and delineates the punishment attached to these offences.

The Law requires that parents or guardians or persons having the custody, charge or care of any child, shall provide adequate food, clothing, rest, medical aid and lodging. Those persons who are responsible and fail to provide these basic needs, shall be deemed to have neglected such child in a manner likely to cause injury to his/her health.

There are also provisions made to protect children from persons who seem intent upon encouraging them to be in any street, premises or place for the purpose of begging or receiving alms, or of inducing the giving of alms (whether or not there is any pretence of singing, playing, performing, offering anything for sale or otherwise) shall be guilty of an offence against this Act.

Another area of grave concern to Law enforcement is the administering of intoxicating liquor to children. According to the Act, any person having attained the age of eighteen years, who gives, or causes to be given, to any child under the age of twelve years any intoxicating liquor except upon the order of a duly qualified medical practitioner, or in any case of sickness, apprehended sickness, or other urgent cause, shall be deemed to have ill-treated that child in a manner likely to cause injury to the child’s health.

Parents and guardians must also pay attention to certain appliances that are not sufficiently protected to guard against the risk of a child being burnt without taking reasonable precautions against the risk. In the event that child is killed or suffers injury, parents or guardians shall be deemed to have neglected that child in a manner likely to cause injury to that child’s health. It is against the law to allow any child to be in any room or yard containing the aforementioned appliances.

It is now up to us all to ensure the successful implementation of the Act, in every area to make sure those who are most vulnerable within our society (our children), get the protection they deserve. We can achieve it if we all work together as a nation to ensure that we provide a comparable level of safety to children in our care.