MONTEGO BAY, St James — Shock and outrage filled the hearts of Jamaicans on Saturday.
News had broken that eight-year-old Danielle Rowe had succumbed to injuries sustained after her throat was slashed, following an abduction at her school in Portmore, St Catherine, two days before.
Young Danielle was taken from the institution in a motor car, transported to Vineyard Town in St Andrew and thrown from the vehicle on Thursday afternoon. It is reported that her brother, who was also taken from the school, was unharmed.
The child reportedly died sometime after 3:00 am at hospital. The news was met with disgust by Jamaica Observer readers who did not shy away from voicing their concerns regarding the safety of children across Jamaica.
“This saddens me greatly! We have failed as a nation and a people to protect the most vulnerable in our society. My heart aches for the affected families,” one woman said.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness, in a news release on Saturday, also described the killing as “barbaric and deeply disturbing”. While offering condolences to the family of the deceased child, Holness urged that anyone with information that could assist the police in their investigations should come forward.
“My heart goes out to Danielle’s family and friends during this period of immense grief. The entire Jamaica must consider this a charge on our collective conscience. Anyone who has any information or knowledge of this incident should immediately inform the police,” the prime minister said.
Holness went on to state that his administration intends to utilise “all the legal tools” available to send a message that any form of violence is not acceptable.
“We cannot be silent or protect those responsible for this gruesome act. Society cannot surrender to wanton violence, and we must be unequivocal when violence is directed against our children. Already since the start of the year, eight children have been murdered, three of whom are under 12 years old. Our indignation and intolerance of fatal violence must be expressed in the highest penalties as a deterrent and the stiffest punishment if the criminal was not deterred,” Holness said.
Opposition Senator Donna Scott Mottley also condemned the child’s murder, in a news release.
Speaking on behalf of the People’s National Party, Scott Mottley said that there is an “urgent need for strengthened measures to ensure the safety and protection of our citizens, particularly our children.
“The heinous act committed against little Danielle is utterly abhorrent and strikes at the core of our society. Our hearts ache for the family as they grapple with this unimaginable loss. We stand united in solidarity with the community during this painful time, and we demand justice for the innocent life that was tragically taken away,” the Opposition Senator said.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family as they navigate this heart-wrenching tragedy. We implore the community to come together, provide support, and advocate for measures that will help prevent such senseless acts of violence in our society,” she added.
At the same time, comments came flooding in from social media users who expressed concerns regarding the safety of the nation’s children.
“There are no words. The saddest thing is we have to rob our children of their innocence and their youth in an effort to keep them safe. Most of them won’t have those fun childhood stories to tell because we can’t allow them the freedom to enjoy life the way we did,” one woman said.
“A country that cannot protect its children and elders is doomed,” another added.