WRONG_WOEID WRONG_WOEID

The Rights of a Child

The Rights of a ChildAntigua St John's - On March 1, 2012, Caribarena.com's caption headline: “Education Minister has little to say on Deportation," caught my attention.

The story detailed an 11 year old who was ordered deported to his homeland of Jamaica, West Indies. The minister was at the time attending a conference in Suriname when she posited to Caribarena.com that “the law will take its course," and she had nothing to add from her youth affairs portfolio. The hon minister took the stance that the decision to send  the boy home “is the judgment of the court”.

According to the facts, the primary school student appeared before Chief Magistrate Joanne Walsh on Monday, February 27 and pleaded guilty to two counts of larceny.

It was also stated that this was the young man’s second appearance for the same offence and his attorney the Hon Steadroy “Cutie” Benjamin told the court that the child’s parents were fed up with him and had no interest in affecting the court’s decision.


Not surprisingly, this story got the local media's attention.
"Media reports (Observer and The Gleaner) quote Magistrate Walsh as
saying, 'He is already broken into being a thief. If his own parents
can’t cope with him, why should the state cope with him? It is obvious
that he does not listen to them (his parents)… I am seriously
contemplating on sending him back to Jamaica and he can steal there.'
It was also stated that the child came to Antigua to visit his parents
and overstayed and his status was never renewed.”

As a mental health professional who has spent a considerable portion of my professional life attending to young people's needs, around issues of self-development, empowerment initiatives, and healthy coaching, I firmly believe in in the home, community, and state establishing positive approach plans to help teenagers believe in themselves, pursue their hidden dreams, and more importantly never lose sight of core values of faith, hope, personal responsibility, collective goodwill, compassion, perseverance, courage, honesty, and hardwork.

Because our youth represent both the present, future, and the future good, there is no excuse for our obvious lack of a culture for collectively raising our children to reach their maximum potential, in any desire for self-fulfillment great or average.

Against my doctrine of empowerment, I agree with the minister of education that she could not speak on the matter adequately since her ministry does not have the human resources nor was it designed to develop the institutional capacity to respond to teenagers in crisis. Perhaps Dr Jacqui Quinn-Leadro should have re-directed the media to seek answers from the minister of Health and Social Transformation in the spirit that as a government minister, she is duty bound by collective responsibility.

The good judge's decision appeared, on the surface, to be insensitive to the larger picture of moving beyond the confines of the law to creatively think of solutions designed to filter out negativity and turn punitive consequences into child consciousness opportunities that place teenagers on second chance pathways, there was no mention that the judge relied on a report from the Probation Department or ordered such a report before making her decision.

I think this situation is reviving the urgency for Antigua & Barbuda to establish, without delay, a “Family Court” to address these and other issues face by families. Family court judges are not only trained in law, but in such areas as domestic violence, child support, and marriage, divorce, custody, and a range of human-related concerns that plague family life.


Such wider exposure to the full realities of family life serve to provide judges with options for interventions when laws are violated by teenagers, rather than simply resorting to callous act of deportation, especially when the rationale of transferring the problem of stealing to another Caribbean country is offered, as opposed to how the state can help to raise successful, happy, and holistic teenagers. It is sad that the judge did not see that this young man needed much more than deportation.

More than the need for a family court in Antigua & Barbuda, this case highlights another important issue. That is, to what extent is this 11 year old entitled to enjoy some form of protection under our constitution, as well as the protections of United Nations convention pertaining to the rights of the child?

If this child's parents are in Antigua, to whom is the judge deporting the child?

Perhaps the good chief magistrate should have considered making this child a ward of the state while making sure that parents maintain their responsibility to provide for their child, regardless of the young man's illegal behaviour.

The Ministry of Social Transformation could have stepped in via the Citizen Welfare Division to place the child in foster care and seek a further order from the court to have the parents pay child support to assist with meeting the needs of the child while in foster care.

When I work with the Ministry of Home Affairs' Citizens Welfare Division, there was one case where a 15-year-old Antiguan child was sent to visit her father in the northeastern United States. Soon thereafter, her father was arrested for child abuse and was removed from the home.

The child was made a ward of the state and the state petitioned the federal 
government for a green card and placed her in foster care. After the child was able to contact her mother and indicated that she wanted to return to Antigua, the mother came in to see the welfare officer and the Citizens Welfare Division made representation on behalf of the mother, and the government of Antigua paid to have one of its citizens returned home.



The Convention on the Rights of the Child can't be ignored by the court when judges are asked to decide the fate of children. These rights underscore that children must be given the social space to develop their full potential, free from hunger and want, neglect and abuse. It reflects a new vision of the child.

Children are neither the property of their parents nor are they helpless objects of charity. They are human beings and are the subject of their own rights.

The Convention offers a vision of the child as an individual and as a member of a family and community, with rights and responsibilities appropriate to his or her age and stage of
development. By recognising children's rights in this way, the Convention firmly sets the focus on the whole child UNICEF (2011).


Perhaps the good chief magistrate should begin to focus on the welfare of the whole child the next time a law-breaking teenager is brought before the court. Doing anything less rejects the notion that it takes a village both to raise and break a child.


Hits: 3748

16 Comments In This Article   

HEADER   

Deportation

#16 Me » 2012-09-13 00:04

sad!!! What did happen to the child?
0
0
+
−

Me

RE: The Rights of a Child

#15 lamanex » 2012-03-11 18:50

You all must be very wealthy in Antigua for harbouring and tollerating all those foreign theifs, rapist and murderers. You have your own problems to take care of let Jamaica take care of theirs. Here in America we are also deporting criminals to their country of origin.
2
4
+
−

lamanex

@ Thinking Big

#14 Avid Reader » 2012-03-11 12:02

ARE YOU KIDDING:

"Avid Reader's self-imposed blindness to the core of thesis reflects deliberate Badmindedness so typical of small thinking Antiguans and so reflective of sweatwiping politicals slaves

The tangent this man went off on, on this specific subject is an outrage. This issue is about a specific child and his behavior and his path down a road that probably according to his parent/parents cannot be resolved.

I can assure you that his coming to Antigua had a lot to do with his behavior, whether or not you can understand it, as a citizen of Jamaica he is their problem.

Let's say that Antigua puts him in prison and God forbids he dies, Jamaica would be in a uproar over what Antigua did to their citizens. I take offense to people who think that lavish words are enough. With this child mentioned prominently in this article, I find it WRITTEN BY SOMEONE WHO IS TRYING TO MAKE A NAME FOR HIMSELF. I will say this again unfortunately on this child's back is not the way to do it.
3
4
+
−

Avid Reader

Solid like a Rock!

#13 Dr. Isaac Newton » 2012-03-11 09:20

Dr. Thomas provides practical tools and meaningful handles in working with teens in crisis to assist them in living more productive lives. Perhaps the CM should be seriously criticized and disciplined for being as outrageously disregarding of her duties as an outstanding leader whose call to the bench should embrace nation-building sensibilities far more than the formal structures of the law.

Clearly there are helpful resources available to the CM. Your article provides a new awareness of the power of coaching and nurturing teens toward greatness. Without adult dream catchers most of us would not have been able to conduct our personal and professional lives at the highest integrted level possible. Pray that the CM improves her ruling next time! Deportation transfers the problem without redeeming the child!
6
0
+
−

Dr. Isaac Newton

@ Avid Reader

#12 Thinking Big » 2012-03-11 09:02

Dr. Thomas your analysis is as therapeutically sound as it is whole-child sensitive. In fact, you made a case that the Judge's rationale for ruling was insensitive at best and regionally callous at worst. Second, you made solid recommendations as to how other government departments could be used to provide this 11 year old with second-chances opportunities. Clearly you were able to envisioned the possibility that a wayward child guided by love and coaching could become the next great scientist of the Caribbean. Avid Reader's self-imposed blindness to the core of thesis reflects deliberate Badmindedness so typical of small thinking Antiguans and so reflective of sweatwiping politicals slaves. I don't see how deportation is a solution to re-direct this child's life. At what point are we going to see that Jamaica's problems affect the Caribbean region in much the same way Antigua's troubles does? Avid Reader's comment lacks both commonsense and thoughtfulness.
5
2
+
−

Thinking Big

Delinquent Child

#11 Thinking Straight » 2012-03-11 07:07

The child is not a citizen of Antigua and Barbuda and in fact, had no legal status in the state. His parents have given up on him. Why should the state of Antigua and Barbuda assume responsibility for him, an illegal visitor? I think some of the comments made by the Chief Magistrate were out of place, but her decision was sound. Send him back to Jamaica where his familiy or his state can look after him. That should not be the responsibility of Antigua and Barbuda.
2
3
+
−

Thinking Straight

seems a ignored part

#10 tenman » 2012-03-10 16:51

Quote:
Perhaps the good chief magistrate should have considered making this child a ward of the state while making sure that parents maintain their responsibility to provide for their child, regardless of the young man's illegal behaviour. The Ministry of Social Transformation could have stepped in via the Citizen Welfare Division to place the child in foster care and seek a further order from the court to have the parents pay child support to assist with meeting the needs of the child while in foster care. Read more: http://www.Caribarena.com/antigua/opinions/opinion-pieces/droswald-r-thomas/99940-the-rights-of-a-child.html#ixzz1okVuxaew
..
2
2
+
−

tenman

Total Hogwash!

#9 Avid Reader » 2012-03-10 15:53

To the writer this is not a teenager, this is an 11 year old child. The first thing that you should ask yourself is, does Antigua have the facilities and the monies to treat this child?. Paramount to this, he is not the responsibility of Antigua, cold as it may appear to you, the judge was right, let his country of birth bear the responsibility of reforming him.

His problems had to have started before he came to Antigua if his parents are giving up on him. What state would you have liked the judge to make him a ward of? I hope you realize that as a non citizen of the country of Antigua & Barbuda there is very little they can do to or for him.

The law does say if you are out of status then deportation is one of the issues you must face. Total hogwash on this issue from someone trying to show that he knows something.

Why should the people of Antigua and Barbuda bear the burden and the cost of his rehabiliation?
6
7
+
−

Avid Reader

Let's utilize the available talents

#8 fnpsr » 2012-03-10 14:31

Dr. Thomas writes, Quote:
“I think this situation is reviving the urgency for Antigua & Barbuda to establish, without delay, a “Family Court” to address these and other issues face by families. Family court judges are not only trained in law, but in such areas as domestic violence, child support, and marriage, divorce, custody, and a range of human-related concerns that plague family life.”
Here is what I said in part to a post to the article, Quote:
“Benjamin Demands Improved Judicial System, CA. December, 23, 2011, “How do you fix the problem? It seems to me that you have to divide the courts into different bodies. You will have a court for strictly criminal matters; a court for civil matters; a court for family matters; a court for traffic matters and a court for small claims.

By dividing the courts into specific categories, the dockets would not be cluttered and efficiency would be greatly improved.”
By utilizing all of the possible talent available, Antigua can “leap-frog” to the 21st century.

“Let’s fix the little things before we attempt to fix the big things.”
4
2
+
−

fnpsr

Dr. Oswald & John French II

#7 tenman » 2012-03-10 14:05

Dr. Oswald Thomas & John French II well said


..
4
4
+
−

tenman

antiguan

#6 solaractive » 2012-03-10 13:39

Let's deal with our own children first pls. Even though we are talking about a child, it seems clear that the parents have no interest. Unfortunate, yes. But, let Jamaica handle his welfare. We have enough problems here without having to import more. Harsh but true.
7
3
+
−

solaractive

The Village, Rights Of The Child & USE

#5 John French II » 2012-03-10 13:35

Notes From A Native Son Of the Rock. Doc, Thanks for clinically and humanely framing the issues and solutions to encourage the People of Antigua & Barbuda to embrace and live up to The Rights of The Child & USE. Quote:
If I be wicked, woe unto me; and if I be righteous, yet will I not lift up my head. I am full of confusion; therefore see thou mine affliction;
as the Nation celebrates Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee and the Birthday of our only living National Hero. When will such wisdom return to this land that is "backing back"? I am reminded of the salmon, spawned in the river, swims downstream to the sea, grows into a magnificent specie in the oceans, yet returns to the very same river in which it was born, swims upstream against tide and predators, to spawn a new generation, fully well knowing that it will be its last hurrah, act of charity and renewal, before death.
Quote:
I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.
Hopefully, Dr.Oswald R Thomas, this will not be your last act of wisdom. Very Much Appreciated. Heaven Help The Children who live within The Nation Of Antigua & Barbuda.
6
3
+
−

John French II

some have missed the salient points - par 2

#4 fnpsr » 2012-03-10 12:44

A continuation:Quote:
fnpsr »2012-03-01 22:12

Although I do not agree that the kid should have been brought to criminal court, it would seem to me that the court should have placed the kid in juvenile detention and have him evaluated. She could have also ordered that the parents be evaluated to determine why they cannot control an eleven-year-old.

The family is the fabric of society and it makes no sense to separate the kid from his parents.

“Let’s fix the little things before we attempt to fix the big things.”
fnpsr »2012-03-01 22:12
3
2
+
−

fnpsr

some have missed the salient points - par 1

#3 fnpsr » 2012-03-10 12:40

While some bloggers have missed the salient points articulated by the Writer, I wholeheartedly agree with him. While the Writer was able to expound on the topic from a professional prospective , I believe that he and I are one the same page. Here is what I said, a post on the subject:

Quote:
fnpsr »2012-03-01 22:11

Can someone explain to me how an eleven-year-old ends up in criminal court? I believe that this kid should have been brought before a juvenile court and offered the help that he needs to better himself.

I believe that the Judge made a serious error in judgement. This kid, while he may have had some previous run in with the law, is still a kid and needs attention. He needs counseling, guidance, structure, discipline and the like. What the Judge is saying is that there is no hope for him at all. She is also claiming that his parents cannot control him and as a result, she will send him back to his place of birth to fend for himself. What is this world coming to when parents and the courts cannot control an eleven-year-old and the best that the authorities can do is to throw the kid to the wind?
3
3
+
−

fnpsr

@ Dr Thomas

#2 Dessalines » 2012-03-10 10:27

The doctor makes it sound as if sending the boy home is punishment. What would have been worse sending him home to Jamaica or to prison or juvenile detention in Antigua? The case of the Antiguan child in the US is a false equivalent to the situation here - for one the Antiguan child was abused and the US does have the financial and human resources to handle cases like this. Antigua does not.
7
5
+
−

Dessalines

Re: Deportation

#1 brooklyn » 2012-03-10 10:11

Dr Thomas with all that you re sugesting ,though they may be of good I support the magistrate on this one, be it a child or an adult he committed a crime and rather to send him to the Boys training school to be a burden on the nation until he was 16 or 18, bearing in mind he is out of status ,she did what i see was right and fair to both nation and the boy.
6
5
+
−

brooklyn

Add comment

Dr. Oswald R. Thomas

Dr. Oswald R. Thomas Dr. Oswald R. Thomas is a Certified and Registered Clinical Hypnotherapist / Psychotherapist with the American Board of Hypnotherapy, the International Association of Counselors and Therapists, and the International Board of Medical and Dental Association. He is founder of the Thomas Center Human Development, Inc. and serves on Bronx Mental Health Committee, served on Community Board #5 in the Bronx, and the Bronx Neighborhood Planning Committee as Chair of the Youth Committee. With a Ph.D. in Psychology, a Master’s in Public Administration, and a Bachelor’s of Professional Studies in Human Services, Dr. Thomas is a counseling therapist/Behaviorist, and Professor at Metropolitan College of New York.

Follow us on Facebook

Spotlight on Education

Previous Next
Govt to give Two Uniforms
Antigua St. John's - Minister of Education Dr Jacqui Quinn-Leandro has confirmed...  Read more

Latest Opinions by Dr.Oswald R Thomas

App

Android LogoDownload Caribarena's Android App Click To Download

Find us on Twitter!