Minister of Education Ronald Jones is calling for the establishment of a ministerial committee to explore ways to prevent the “exploitation of innocence and ignorance” of underage girls.
Expressing concern over the number of girls reported missing in recent months, Jones revealed that he had already spoken with Minister of Home Affairs Adriel Brathwaite about the possibility of introducing the committee that would include the Child Care Board, Junior Liaison Scheme, Probation Department, Ministry of Education, Government Industrial Schools and guidance counsellors among other stakeholders.
“There is a lot of exploitation of several of our young ladies and it is that exploiting that we have to get our teeth in,” the minister said following the launch of a Toward Robotics In Secondary Schools workshop at Erdiston Teachers’ Training College this morning.
“And get young ladies too to understand that out there is set up to simply exploit. Sometimes it is out of need. ‘I need something so I leave home because somebody else is providing that need’. Sometimes it is out of need and the exploitation of innocence and ignorance,” he stressed, pointing to videos circulating of young girls being abused, while insisting that he had refused to view any of those videos.
Jones said the various interest groups should form a structured partnership to thoroughly investigate why the children go missing. He said the investigation would help social workers understand the girls’ home and school background, whether there was peer pressure or if the children were being neglected or abused at home or at school.
Just last month, five girls from a rural secondary school went missing at the same time and were all found at the same location. Jones noted that it was not normal for so many students from the same school to go missing at the same time and condemned those who harboured those children.
“It is really not right for 14 and 15-year-olds to just abandon their homes and go to other people places and it is not on an excursion or a sleep over.
“Obviously it is problematic in the sense that these children become known because the police has to put out their names, the police has to put out what they look like, etc,”he said. (AH)