THE Government should ensure that funds are allocated in the 2015 national budget for the construction of a state-of-the-art home for children in this country, fully equipped with specialist and all resources for their well- being, says Independent Senator Helen Drayton.
Drayton poured her concerns and heartbreak over the allegations of abuse at the St Michael’s School for Boys, adding that the death of teenager Brian Hargreaves warrants urgent attention and action and people must be held accountable.
She raised the matters during her contribution to the Miscellaneous Provisions (Prisons) Bill, 2014 at the Senate sitting yesterday.
Drayton said, for many years, this institution has drawn the attention of the media and public with allegations of rape, runaway children, stealing of property etc.
She said this strikes at the heart of management and whilst there are moves to remove the boys from the home, the question remains who will be held accountable and what action will be taken against the management.
She lamented that there is only action when there is public outcry and when the media pound at an issue every day.
Drayton slammed the present and past governments for their inaction to these problems and pointed out that when there is a public outcry, commission of enquiries and task forces are appointed.
She said for the past four years during the People’s Partnership tenure nothing was done to address the plight of the children when billions have been spent.
“Not one government in the history of this country has seen it fit to build one single holistic institution for our children, not one, all the institutions have been built by NGOs and granted the Government funds those NGOs,” said Drayton.
Turning to the issue of punishment, Drayton said corporal punishment today is not what it was years ago.
“Today it is a cuff, a kick, it is planass with a broom, shovel or even cutlass often inflicted on children by frustrated, over-the-top, out-of-control single mothers and other callous adults like those at the St Michael’s School for Boys,” she said.
She also criticised the Government on the legislation being debated, saying that it was not needed to fix the problems that currently occur in the nation’s homes and prisons.
Independent Senator Helen
Drayton: “This Bill (Miscellaneous Provisions (Prisons) Bill, 2014 ) is a pretence of doing something, as long as prisoners still taking out their pails and as long as the workers in those prisons have to endure those conditions, it is a pretence, it is a smokescreen,” said Drayton.