Fri | Oct 19, 2018

More children dying on weekends, says report

Published:Thursday | July 19, 2018 | 12:00 AMJodi-Ann Gilpin/Gleaner Writer
Onyka Barrett Scott (right), acting general manager of JN Foundation, in discussion with (from left) Shiloh BrocK, Jhon-Marc Prince, and Brian Barrow at yesterday's launch of the Child Road Safety Assessment: Jamaica report sponsored by JN Foundation, in partnership with UNICEF.

Research is showing that most children suffer from accidents on the weekends.

The findings are contained in the Child Road Safety Assessment: Jamaica report published by the Jamaica National Foundation in collaboration with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and which was launched yesterday at the Regional Headquarters of the University of the West Indies in Mona, St Andrew.

Dr Earl Bailey, lead researcher, pointed to the findings, which show that between the period 2012 and 2017, there were 86 fatalities on Saturday and 91 on Sunday. This was followed by Wednesday, which recorded 70, Monday, 69; Thursday, 60; while Tuesday had 55.

Bailey, a senior lecturer at the University of Technology, indicated that a factor that would have contributed to the increase on weekends was that children tended to display more polished and conservative behaviour in school uniform than when they were in plain clothes.

"You find that when students are out of uniform, they tend to assume more adult-like behaviours. As such, the care they take while in uniform doesn't necessarily translate to the care they take when out of uniform," he reasoned. "They are also less visible out of uniform to drivers as children. So, for example, a sixth-former in jeans and T-shirt, to a driver, is not a child, compared to when he or she is wearing uniform."

He further explained: "We have higher rates of fatalities also on Saturdays, Sundays, Fridays, and Mondays. Most of our children take public transportation. When a child leaves school and the child then goes into a public bus, the child must now navigate adult situations, and then they have to become a child again. This can affect their psyche, and, therefore, contribute to their vulnerability," he continued.

State Minister Floyd Green expressed his gratitude for the research and said that a possible solution to reducing fatalities on the weekend could be to do some additional work in the homes.

"I found very interesting the revelation [that] most of our fatal accidents with our children [are] happening on weekends," Green said.

"This matches the [recent] UNICEF U-report, which said that a number of our children have reported to feeling unsafe on the roads," he added.

jodi-ann.gilpin@gleanerjm.com