Following an ordeal that resulted in his seven year-old son spending a week in a state-owned children’s home, Abdul Small is raising concern about what he considers to be the negligence of some schools in relation to the oversight of children left in their care.
Mr Small, who is originally from the Ewarton area of St Catherine, but who now lives in the United States, told The Beacon that his nightmare started to unfold on July 10, when his son was left at Spanish Town Primary School.
He stated that the child, Abdul Small Jr, was to start attending the school in September, but he was doing summer classes there.
When his grandmother Marlena Knibbs went to the school to pick him up on the afternoon of July 10, he was nowhere to be found.
“His grandma was running late about five minutes to pick him up,” the father said. “When she reached the school, they told her that my son was gone.”
The grandmother went home in the Spanish Town area and, to her surprise, the child was not there. She became increasingly worried.
Mr Small said a friend eventually contacted him after seeing that the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) had published an appeal, seeking to locate relatives of young Abdul who was found wandering in Spanish Town.
The full police appeal, which was distributed to media houses, READS:
The police are seeking the public’s assistance in locating the relatives of a child, who gave his name as Abdul Small. He was found in the vicinity of the Spanish Town Hospital in St Catherine on Wednesday, July 10.
He is of dark complexion, slim build and is believed to be about eight years old.
Reports from the Spanish Town Police are that, about 1:30PM, the child was found by a nurse and brought to the station.
Anyone with information that can assist in the investigations is being asked to contact the Spanish Town Police at 876-984-2305, Police 119 emergency number or the nearest police station.– Jamaica Constabulary Force
The JCF, in another media release the following day, said the child was ‘reunited with his family members’. That, however, was not the case.
Although the child’s relatives visited Spanish Town Police Station to collect young Abdul, they were not allowed to leave with him.
The father said his son, instead, was placed in a children’s home.
He remained at that facility until yesterday, July 17, when his mother Ramona Blidgen appeared before the court, and eventually regained custody.
“She went to court last Friday; it was put off. She went back yesterday; she got him to take home,” Mr Small told The Beacon. “Thanks to the nurse [who found my son] and the police for doing their job, and to all the persons on Facebook who sent out the message and reached out to me.”
Mr Small, however, is still not satisfied that Spanish Town Primary School did enough to protect his child. “My question is: How is a teacher going to send home a seven-year-old child that is new to the area – by himself, and know he was going to get picked up although pick-up was five minutes late? The system with our kids needs to be fixed in Jamaica – not by the government alone, but also with the schools.”
Mr Small, who has had a change of mind about sending his son to Spanish Town Primary in September, said the child was living in St Thomas for years until recently. He, however, was born in Spanish Town.
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