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Keeping a watchful eye on the young

If you were to stand near a public primary school when it got out in the afternoon, you’d see a disturbing trend. The young – primary-schoolers – are the “adults” escorting their even younger siblings or relatives home along the streets of New Providence. There is no adult around.

In many of our inner-city communities children wander from place to place, day and night. They are their own guardians on the streets.

New Providence is no longer a safe little village. There are 200,000 residents. There is a crime problem. People drive recklessly.

Unattended children are easy prey to criminals and abusers.

Recently there has been a series of abductions in New Providence.

On March 7, three boys – ages five, eight and 10 – were reportedly taken while walking in Kool Acres. The five-year-old and the 10-year-old were dropped back in the area. The eight-year-old was left in front of the city dump less than an hour later.

On March 6, an eight-year-old boy was taken from a park near his home on Emmanuel Drive, off Soldier Road, and later dropped off unharmed near the entrance of the New Providence Landfill.

On March 3, an eight-year-old girl was taken from her Culmerville home and later dropped off at the entrance of Woodlawn Gardens graveyard, police said.

On February 16, three-year-old Shavar Bain was allegedly kidnapped by two women in a silver car while he was riding his bicycle outside his South Beach home. He was dropped off at a wash house on Joe Farrington Road and Fox Hill Road the following morning, police said.

Police suspect these cases are connected. They have circulated a sketch of a female suspect.

In the wake of these abductions, Chief Superintendent Solomon Cash of the Central Detective Unit said parents must do a better job supervising their children. He is right.

“Parents need to [provide] better supervision,” he said.

“We don’t expect them to have their young kids walking about the streets as if they are adults.

“If you are going to send them out to public areas, you should have them supervised by an adult.”

His advice should not be taken as specific criticism of the parents and guardians whose children were recently abducted. His comments speak more to the wider cultural problem of unattended children roaming.

Children who are watched by responsible adults are more difficult to abduct or harm. Predators seek easy targets. An eight-year-old girl and her five-year old sister walking home from school are much more vulnerable than another five-year old girl being escorted home by her 35-year-old father.

It is irresponsible to allow small children to wander around our communities without mature supervision. As adults, parents, guardians and relatives, we must make it a habit to supervise, to know where they are, to know who they are with.

Too many of our children are allowed to be in places they should not be, alone and vulnerable to people with the worst intentions. We must do better.

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