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Firefighter: Punish parents who leave kids unsupervised

Published:Monday | November 18, 2019 | 12:27 AMChristopher Thomas/Gleaner Writer


In the wake of a recent fire in St James that killed two children at home while their mother was reportedly at a party, a senior firefighter has called for tougher laws to punish negligent parents.

While addressing a child protection forum held by the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA) at the Montego Bay Cultural Centre in St James last Thursday evening, Jamaica Fire Brigade’s Area Four Assistant Commissioner Floyd McLean noted the irony of that tragedy taking place mere days after the celebration of Fire Safety Awareness Week.

“I’d like to see the full force of the law come to bear on our parents who believe that they’re at the point where they still should be running up and down on the road at night when their children ought to be protected at home,” said McLean.

Eight-year-old Javinchie Palmer and his one-year-old brother, Tyler McLeod, died in a fire that consumed their wooden house in Paradise, Norwood, on November 1 at 11:55 p.m. Their young sisters were seriously injured. Their mother, who had reportedly left the children at home, was subsequently taken into custody on suspicion of child neglect.

According to McLean, fires of this nature also happen because adults are careless in failing to teach their children about the importance of fire safety. Additionally, he urged residents to call the authorities if they know of parents leaving their children unsupervised.

‘Lazy’ adults

“My experience in fire safety has taught me that adults are predominantly lazy, and the things that we should do to protect our children, we don’t do them. A child will not exit a building unless schooled in that practice; they will run and hide in the house,” said McLean.

“When a lady has four or five children and seems to be leaving them alone, we have to contact the CPFSA and the police. Something must be done about it because you’re going to end up having that problem in your community, and you’re going to say you knew that it would have happened.”