Smoking boy, siblings now in State care

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Smoking boy, siblings now in State care

Friday, September 25, 2020

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THE three-year-old boy at the centre of the controversial video making the rounds on social media has been put in a place of safety, along with his two siblings, while State officials consider an appropriate solution.

The action was taken after members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force yesterday took the mother of the toddler into custody for questioning, following an intense search to locate the child, who, in the video clip, was being prodded to smoke and drink what appeared to be alcohol as part of a birthday celebration.

Children's Advocate Diahann Gordon Harrison, whose office launched an investigation in collaboration with the police and other State agencies, told the Jamaica Observer that the matter was brought before the court yesterday, resulting in the judge making an order to temporarily place the child and his two siblings — both younger than eight years of age — at a place of safety.

“The matter goes back to court early next week,” she said.

The child's mother was at that time still being interviewed by the police, the Observer was told.

Responding to criticisms that taking the children from their current environment and placing them in State care would further the harm already done, Gordon Harrison said: “Which is why it is not a permanent placement. I, for one, don't like institutionalisation at all, but where you have an extreme case like this, where the situation is so fresh, you don't want to just pluck the child from what may be inappropriate circumstances and place them with somebody else in the same kind of circumstances.

“So the fact that it is an interim order, which means it's temporary, gives us the opportunity to do the due diligence with whomever in the private community may be seen as an appropriate person, to ensure that when they are placed, it is not a knee-jerk reaction and you are jumping from the frying pan into the fire,” she explained.

Asked whether placing the child with foster parents would be a more suitable alternative, she said: “That is also an option, but again, the due diligence would have to be done.”

— Alicia Dunkley-Willis


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