KINGSTON — The police are among stakeholders who are raising concerns over the sharp rise in the incidence of children selling goods on the bustling streets of Montego Bay in what is said to be a flagrant breach of the country’s child labour law.
Head of the Police Area One Acting ACP Warren Clarke reported that the police will step up their campaign against the perpetrators as well as their parents.
“The high command and area command are very firmly against this practice and I intend to get the police at the parish level to pay attention to this practice,” Clarke said.
“Yesterday we (police high command) were at a community forum where the issue came up that the children were not only selling in the streets, but were a nuisance to commuters at stoplights,” he added.
The issue also came into sharp focus during this week’s monthly sitting of the St James Parish Council’s Civic and Community Affairs Committee.
Chairman of the committee and councillor for the Montego Bay South Division, Suzette Brown, said the vexed issue required urgent intervention.
“We are concerned with the seeming increase in the number of children on the streets of the city peddling wares or doing odd jobs, even at times when it should be school hours, in clear breach of the child labour law,” she lamented.
The chairman pointed out that these “working children” can be seen at all hours of the day throughout the city, some even accompanied by their parents, who are working as well.
“I believe that the relevant authorities, especially the Child Development Agency and the police, should do more to address the issue, which is clearly being ignored.”
Councillor Brown’s position was fully endorsed by her fellow colleague councillors, Stein Graham, Knollis King and Stanley Harris.
The locations frequented by these working children were identified as Harbour Street in downtown Montego Bay; Howard Cooke Boulevard and the intersection of Gloucester Avenue; Fairview Shopping Centre; and Barnett Street. (Observer)