4-y-o beaten to death

July 20, 2021

Public Defender Arlene Harrison Henry has condemned the death of four-year-old Nashaun Brown, who died Sunday at the Spanish Town Hospital after he was beaten by his stepfather allegedly with a stick for "eating slowly".

Henry, describing the situation as "heart-breaking", has also called for a greater enforcement of the child protection laws.

"I believe that there are adequate laws, that it is not to say that there should not be more laws to protect our children. But at present where we stand, there are laws that require serious enforcement and where penalties are provided for that are fairly stringent and can be harsh. But that is a matter for the court, for the police to investigate thoroughly and for the matter to be prosecuted based on investigations and the unearthing of evidence so that cases are properly presented to our courts and convictions can be evidence based," she said.

Reports are that Nashaun complained of not feeling well and was given a meal by his mother. It is alleged that he was eating slowly when the stepfather became angry and beat him with a stick. Nashaun's mother reportedly intervened and was also assaulted. Shortly after, the child became unresponsive and was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead. The stepfather was taken into police custody and is expected to be charged for assault. A post-mortem will determine if additional charges can be proffered.

Children's Advocate Diahann Gordon Harrison commended the police for their swift action and promised that her office would continue to monitor the matter, seeking to get some semblance of justice for Nashaun.

"I think that it really gives us an opportunity again to recognise that it cannot be business as usual," she said, while encouraging Jamaicans to improve on their parenting skills.

"When you think about it, being a parent, whether biological or not, there is so much more that is required than just being a grown male or grown female. What about the patience that parents are supposed to have? The skills that they supposed to have in persuading their child and explaining to them certain things? Every parent of a child should know that four-year-olds are picky eaters, worst if they don't feel well which is what the first allegations here seem to suggest. When you think about all these missing pieces you wonder about the preparedness of some of us adults as parents," she said.

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