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Mar 29, 1999

Children speak out at summit

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The deaths of four children and widespread incidents of child abuse and incest prompted UNICEF and the National Committee for Families and Children to hold a summit over the weekend. The event, which was also a follow-up to the Children’s Election a year ago, allowed young people to voice their concerns about the recent murders, missing and abused children and their fears for their own safety. Channel Five aired the summit live on Saturday from St. Mary’s Hall. Here are some highlights.

Tanika Skeen

“Too often we hear from young offenders the words, I wished someone loved me and cared about me; I wished someone had protected me against the person who abused me. When children are not shown a lot of love from their families. They get it elsewhere.”

Myrsa Velasquez

“I believe that all schools should be equipped with qualified counselors. Belize is expanding simultaneous, problems are encountered. With this modernization and expansion we should have conference in government schools. With this in effect children will have guides, monitors, advisors and friends they can talk to.”

Michelle Cadle

“I believe that no children should be selling on the streets during school hours and after school hours. Also that a rule be made that no children should be on the streets after eight in the night.”

Said Musa, Prime Minister

“Certainly we have to take note of the fact that you are very, very concerned, that you are demanding far more severe penalties for these sex offenders. They have to be put away and locked up for a long time. That is the message I get clearly from you today because child abuse is perhaps the most sick and perverted criminal act in our society. And the steps taken by our authorities to stamp out child abuse in Belize most reflect our country’s total intolerance.”

Students from all over Belize made brief presentations to the panelists which included the Prime Minister, Attorney General, Ministers of Education and Youth, the police, NOPCA and N.C.F.C. All of the panelists said that the children’s pleas for help and recommendations for dealing with the crisis will be considered by the relevant agencies. Assistant Commissioner of Police, Hughington Williams, said because of the lack of resources in Belize the Federal Bureau of Investigations in the United States will be assisting in the investigation of the recent murders.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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