Begging with babies - Authorities sound warning to parents
Head of the Child Development Agency, Rosalee Gage-Grey, is imploring women to desist from the dangerous practice of begging with their young babies in the streets.
Gage-Grey said that persons who use children in this manner could eventually lose their children and find themselves in trouble with the law.
"If we issue the parent with a warning and it happens again, then we possibly would have to take the child. But our first attempt is to educate the parent that the practice is wrong, seek to get them support from our other social agencies, and find out if there is a family member who could provide supervision for that child," Gage-Grey told THE STAR.
On the weekend, THE STAR observed women in different areas of King Street in downtown Kingston begging for subsistence with their babies in hand. One such woman planted herself on the steps of an ATM, with her baby on her lap and feeding bottle on the ground, begging money from each person who exited the ATM.
When a member of our news steam made enquiries, the woman said she wanted money to buy food for her baby, and that she does not know where the child's father is. However, when pressed about further details on why she has taken to the streets to beg with her baby, she would not divulge additional information, and declined to have a feature done on her so she could get help.
BEGGING DIAPER MONEY
Another woman was observed along a busy plaza with her baby in hand begging money for diapers.
"A me alone and the baby too young fi me leave her to go work," the woman claimed, when asked why she is engaging in the practice.
According to Gage-Grey, if their office investigates such situations and find that a child is in need of care and protection, then the parents could find themselves in trouble with the law, facing charges such as neglect.
Founder of Hear the Children's Cry, Betty Ann Blaine, said that she has witnessed the practice on multiple occasions, and even offered assistance in one instance, but the mother still continued the practice.
"They know people will just naturally gravitate to a baby. It tugs at your heart when you see a woman with a baby begging. But we just want to make it clear to mothers that this is an activity that can land them behind bars. If your child is placed in a situation that puts the baby at risk, that is against the law. You can't be on the street begging with a little baby in all kinds of weather, sunshine, rain," Blaine said.