National Committee for Families and Children responds to baby Janeeka’s death

Wednesday, December 14th, 2016

Janeeka Campbell, a 23-month old toddler from Belize City, made headline news on Tuesday, December 6th when her lifeless body was found with signs of bruises. Police reports indicated that she was taken to Saint Matthews Village on the George Price Highway to visit with her father that day. However, the puzzling reports suggested that she either died from an accidental fall or she was a victim of child abuse/neglect. Campbell’s death has prompted much reaction throughout the country, especially from the National Committee for Families and Children (NCFC).

Campbell’s post-mortem was conducted on Thursday, December 8th, and the results were ‘inconclusive’. The pathologist classified her death as “Traumatic asphyxiation multifocal subarachnoid” hemorrhage due to head and chest trauma”, and stated that she did not die of natural causes.

The NCFC issued a press release in regards to her death of Thursday, December 8th, stating that the death of any child is regrettable and that it is of grave concern. “We join the nation in mourning the tragic loss of another innocent Belizean child…media reports about the questionable circumstances surrounding the tragic death of baby Janeeka Campbell leaves the NCFC with grave concerns and a number of questions.”

In accordance with Part II Section 5-(1) of the Families and Children Act, Chapter 173 Revised Laws of Belize Edition 2011 states that “it should be the duty of a parent, guardian, or any person having custody of the child to maintain that child and in particular, that duty gives a child the right to a proper life. Subsection 5-(2) also states that, “it shall be the duty of any person having custody of a child to use his best efforts to protect the child from discrimination, violence, abuse and neglect”.

According to NCFC, recent results of the Belize Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey 2015 indicate that children below the age of five experience the most severe forms of violence against them. “It is our collective responsibility to ensure that parents have all the support they need to raise happy and healthy children. Together with its partners, the NCFC continues to work on strengthening the support that Government and NGOs give to families. However, as citizens we need to remember that it takes a village to raise a child. The general public is reminded that every citizen has a moral obligation to act when we see warning signs of violence against children, and report all suspected cases of child abuse to the relevant authorities.”

The NCFC also encourages the media to participate in the ongoing dialogue about protecting our children in a more substantive manner, the state, civil society and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to ensure that the services they provide reach those families and children who need them most, and parents to utilize and make most of the services that are available to them by the state and NGOs.

The NCFC is seriously concerned about the levels of violence that children experience, and violence it should never be tolerated. “As we enter this Christmas season, the NCFC would like to encourage parents to consider positive discipline methods. Teaching children self-control and acceptable behavior is an integral part of child discipline. Let us all work together to ensure that as parents and guardians we strive towards non-violence and avoid these kinds of incidents from reoccurring. After all, our children’s safety should be our sole responsibility.”

The investigation of Baby Janeeka still continues, and no charges have been laid on her parents who were detained for questioning.

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