Thu | Dec 2, 2021

Kick Kartel off pedestal, children’s advocate urges

Published:Monday | January 27, 2020 | 12:00 AMChristopher Serju/Gleaner Writer
Diahann Gordon Harrison, children’s advocate, greets Dr Courtney Faulknor, president of the Caribbean Conference of Seventh-day Christians, at the group’s prayer breakfast at The Knutsford Court Hotel on Sunday.
Incarcerated dancehall artiste Vybz Kartel.

The confirmation of convicted murderer Vybz Kartel as the undisputed role model for children who were in conflict with the law has left Diahann Gordon Harrison, Jamaica’s children’s advocate and national rapporteur on trafficking in persons, deeply disturbed.

She told Sunday’s Caribbean Conference of Seventh-day Christians at the Knutsford Court Hotel, New Kingston, that a study conducted by the Office of the Children’s Advocate among girls and boys who were either charged or accused formally of having committed an offence had revealed the finding.

The prayer breakfast was centred around the theme ‘Save Our Boys, Save Our Nation’.

Rated as dancehall’s greatest lyricist in 2014, Kartel, whose given name is Adidja Palmer, along with three other men, was convicted of the murder of Clive ‘Lizard’ Williams. He was sentenced to life in prison, with the stipulation that he serve 35 years before qualifying for parole.

A court ruling on his appeal is pending.

The children’s advocate, however, emphasised that she was not numbered among the entertainer’s followers.

“This is the person they saw as the be-all and end-all of what you need to strive to be like. If you stop and just dissect for a moment a cross section of the type of lyrics that are contained in Mr Palmer’s music, certainly as a parent, that’s not the kind of music my children would be exposed to – not if I have anything to do with it.

“And so we have to ask ourselves the question, Who are the role models that are setting the examples for our children?” she said.

Gordon Harrison warned that Jamaica’s culture of violence would go unabated if children, particularly boys, were fed a constant diet of violence.

She urged church, school, and community stakeholders to inculcate in boys the value of self-restraint and to teach them conflict resolution skills.

“Are we encouraging them to know when to walk away? Are we encouraging them to have meaningful discussions? Are we even teaching them how to communicate, how to understand to talk through issues without physically reacting whenever there is a difficult situation?” she asked of the audience.

Gordon Harrison urged parents and others to seek out timely and sustained intervention for boys, who are often both the victims and perpetrators of crime.

Boys are also featuring prominently as victims of human trafficking, the national rapporteur in trafficking of persons said, emphasising that many breaches were occuring in open view.

“Once they are sent to somebody, kept in a place, transported to another place for the purpose of exploitation, that’s human trafficking,” she said.