Reggae superstar Jimmy Cliff (left) greets veteran producer Winton ‘Niney’ Holness (right), while Joylene Griffiths-Irving, executive director of the Scotiabank Foundation, looks on. The occasion was a media briefing held at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston, on Thursday. (PHOTO: JOSEPH WELLINGTON)—-

THE plight of the island’s children was the focus of a media briefing at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel in St Andrew, last Thursday.

Holding centre stage was reggae legend Jimmy Cliff, who spoke about his foundation’s benefit dinner on June 1 at the Pegasus.

“I’m pleased to be associated with you who are concerned about our children. I grew up in a country where children were taught to respect elders, and elders to respect children… I’ve always loved children… [So] I made Treat the Youths Right,” said the singer in reference to his 1982 song.

Cliff’s latest studio effort, Children Love Dem, Don’t Hurt Dem, is slated to be released at the benefit dinner.

Joylene Griffiths-Irving, executive director of the Scotiabank Foundation, said her company will partner with Cliff’s foundation to host the event.

“At Scotiabank, we put a lot of money into education, into scholarships. We give scholarships for GSAT (Grade Six Achievement Test). I went to a school on Reading Day and only two out of 30 kids were abIe to sit GSAT. Why? Because the other 28 were not emotionally ready. Why? Because they have been going through sexual abuse and physical abuse. They were getting counselling from CISOCA (Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse). The point is, children can’t even sit the exams to vie for the scholarships because of what they are going through,” Griffiths-Irving told Sunday Observer.


There were also presentations by Dr Pauline Mullings, director of the National Child Month Committee; and Rayon Simpson, chairman of the Respect and Protect Our Children Committee and principal of Belmont Academy.

Since January, more than 30 children have been killed in Jamaica, according to the police.

In her address at the launch of Global Road Safety Week last week, Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller said the mission to save children’s lives is a national one.

“It is our duty. It is our ultimate trust as a society to preserve and protect the lives of children, who are the very future of our nation,” she said.

–By Brian Bonitto–


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