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Of outrage and educational standards

Sunday, December 29, 2013

There is a role for outrage. Even those of us who will never have children share the nation’s wrenching, speechless grief over six-year-old Keyana Cumberbatch’s gruesome murder and rape. These are things that unite us powerfully, despite our differences. 


That is why Children’s Authority chairman Stephanie Daly’s remarks to the nation about the murder were so chilling. We do not hear or see much by way of the Children’s Authority, the nation’s long-in-coming human rights body responsible for preventing what happened to Keyana. So what we heard resonated powerfully.


“There is no sense in responding on each child and feeling that anything we can do would necessarily have prevented that particular child’s disaster…People have to recognise that it doesn’t matter how you strengthen legislation or what you put in place, there is no way that anybody can protect every child in the nation all the time…there will always be children who get abused because they get abused by the people who are in the homes, their families, when there is nobody else watching.”


We cannot protect human rights without systems. Verna St Rose Greaves made that point, eloquently wringing her hands, seated on the pavement in the shadow of the tall buildings on either side of Wrightson Road, after being ejected for disrupting Parliament. The sitting was suspended by Speaker Wade Mark for all of ten minutes. But disrupt Verna did. Because that is how we make change, how we put feelings and anger to good use.


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