Prime Minister Andrew Holness is urging families not to take violent behavior from family members lightly. Speaking while visiting mother and grandmother Gwendolyn McKnight, whose daughter Kemesha Wright and her 4 children were brutally killed by a family member, Prime Minister Holness says ignoring violent behavior that does not necessarily rise to the level of a crime, has the potential to escalate to much more significant degrees and must be treated with, in the first instance.
Prime Minister Holness described the killing of 5 Jamaicans, including an infant as an assault on the sensibilities of Jamaicans. He noted that the accused, Rushane Barnett allegedly displayed violent tendencies that foreshadowed his barbaric killing of members of his own family. The Prime Minister stated that with early intervention, family on family violence such as Ms Wright and her children can be prevented.
The Prime Minister underscored that early signs of violence must be documented through formally reporting it to the police, seeking counseling and engaging conflict resolution mechanisms to resolve family-on-family conflict before it festers to result in devastating outcomes.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister said corporal punishment in disciplining children can result in the internalization of violence and the belief that it is a tool to resolve conflict, which perpetuates the cycle of violence within the country.
Acknowledging that many Jamaicans do not know how to resolve conflict, the Prime Minister said the Government continues to fast-track its anti-violence policies and programmes and greater focus will be given to conflict resolution. He is therefore calling on the church and community-based organisations to work with families to provide counseling where possible and to help families to navigate difficult situations before they end in fatalities.
In offering comfort to Mrs. McKnight and her family, Prime Minister Holness again pledged his personal support and that of the Government.