It is indeed a sad day in Jamaica to find out that the Alpha Boys Home which has served both as a home and school for thousands of boys will cease its residential care facilities in June of 2014. The Alpha Boys Home started in 1891 with sixteen boys and has turned out many distinguished Jamaicans including some of Jamaica’s finest musicians. The school was founded by the religious order The Sisters of Mercy and has had a proud and illustrious record over the years. The Sisters of Mercy was founded in 1831 by Catherine Elizabeth Mc Auley, an Irish nun who used her inheritance to build a home for homeless women and children and provide for them care and an education.
Two reasons were given by The Sisters of Mercy for the closure of the residential care facilities. One was the failure of human capital to respond to the numerous and changing faces of the issues being displayed by the children as well as the increase in anti social behavior among the children in the care system. These issues however, are not confined to Alpha Boys Home; in fact the problem of anti- social behavior within the society speaks to the moral decay the society has been experiencing over the years. This social ill should be a cause of grave concern for all well thinking Jamaicans and should spur us into action to tackle this monster.
Given the fact that many of the boys who lived at Alpha Boys Home are at- risk youth we need to ask the question what will become of their living arrangements after the closure of the residential facilities at Alpha Boys Home? In many instances these boys are from abusive backgrounds and should not return to such conditions. This is extremely disturbing especially since the Ministry of Youth is reporting a thirty nine per cent increase in incidence of abuse of children. It is extremely a sad state of affairs! Our children cant seems to catch a break.
At the same time we must be grateful that the Alpha Boys Home will continue to operate its day school which will provide necessary skills training and academic classes to countless number of young men who are in need of such support. It also important to note that the famed music programme is projected to continue.
As a society we need to thoroughly examine the situation at hand and put in some concrete measure to stem the tide of neglect and other forms of abuse that our children encounter daily.
We need to engage our parents more in terms of having parenting workshops on a regular basis. Too many of our parents are neglecting their responsibility as parents. We cannot continue to neglect and abuse our children in this manner. Our children are the foundation of all sustainable development. As a society it is important that we do all given our budgetary constraints to enrich, protect and build the human capital of our country.