Jamaica‘s children have taken their pleas for an end to violence against them to the country’s parliament. It was the first time children were addressing a sitting of the House of Representatives. Tuesday‘s visit by the children came on the eve of World Children’s Day. “We are here today as advocates for a violence free Jamaica. We love our country but we hate the violence that is hurting the bodies, minds and spirits of Jamaican children,” declared seven year-old Ngozi, who led the charge Tuesday afternoon in demanding the government provide greater protection for children from violence and abuse. She was joined by Tafari, Keno and Shaneille. Tafari said children were “afraid to go to school, afraid to go home, afraid to go outside in our communities” as “we live in fear that we will be the next victims of violence.” Eighteen year-old Shaneille shared how she became a ward of the state at age 11 after her grandfather sexually abused her from the age of five to age nine. She said she was left with a feeling of hopelessness and even tried to end her own life on several occasions. Keno recounted some of the other stories of violence shared by children during meetings organised by UNICEF and the Office of the Children’s Advocate. He said some recalled physical abuse from they were five years-old to age 10. Other children reported seeing people being killed by gunmen while others said they were sexually abused by a family friend. Shaneille noted that during the meetings, held over a three month period, children made two main demands – for the implementation of a national anti-bullying campaign and the setting up of a 24-hour counselling help line for children. PM, Opposition Leader respond In responding to the presentations, Prime Minister Andrew Holness announced that a newly updated National Plan of Action to end violence against children would be launched Tuesday evening. “The successful implemention of the plan is a critical element of this. This is not a plan that will sit on the shelf somewhere, it is a plan that must be implemented in a timely and efficient manner. It must be actioned urgently,” he asserted. Opposition Leader Dr. Peter Phillips suggested the information gathered during the meetings with children be examined by the Human Resource Committee of Parliamentary, “so that collectively, we can take the vital decisions that are necessary and not have this experience, which has been so valuable to all of us, simply disappear.” Police statistics up to November 4 show an increase in the number of children murdered in Jamaica this year. Forty children were killed, up from 38 in 2018.