Not much has changed for the family of 44 year-old domestic helper Doreen Dyer since she got charged with child cruelty in a case that attracted national attention.
She was struggling before, and she is struggling even worse now with her five children with the possibility of real jail time hanging over her head. She is still unemployed, and there are no jobs or real life changes anywhere on the horizon in St Thomas.
“Nothing much has changed. My mother is still not working, I am still not working,” Sheryl Jones, the 21 year daughter of Doreen Dyer, told Loop reporter Claude Mills on Wednesday.
“Only the people in the community have rallied around my mom, they still drop by to look for her, but no one from the corporate side has moved to help the family members who can get jobs, to secure jobs so we can help out. This is very frustrating, ah just pressure and more pressure, things nah change,” she said.
Sheryl Jones, the daughter of Doreen Dyer, says her family feels ostracised
Dyer was recorded beating her daughter with a machete in a video widely circulated on social media. She returns to court next Wednesday, November 15th to answer the child cruelty charges in the St Thomas Parish Court in Morant Bay.
The video triggered widespread condemnation across Jamaica, including from the Child Development Agency which reiterated its call for a full ban on corporal punishment.
Jones believes that there is a lack of compassion in the society and says that her family feels ostracised and marooned, cut off from the support of the business community of St Thomas which has offered no support in terms of real employment or income-generating possibilities.
“My mother goes counselling every Friday in Kingston, and the support agencies from town have called, but no one from the business community in St Thomas has offered jobs or any sort of support,” Jones said.
“The government wants to punish her, but when it comes to providing real assistance, in terms of a job, or an opportunity to work, to change her life and take care of kids, where is the help?” she continued. “Nothing nah gwaan in St Thomas, nobody from the business community has stepped forward, St Thomas ah the poorest and most neglected parish for real.”
In the wake of the incident, Prime Minister Andrew Holness condemned the savage beating of Jamaica’s children by some parents, calling it “unacceptable”.
“I’ve never been one to accept that it is their private domain and parents can do what they will with their children. But I’m not here to condemn the mother, she needs help and support. We don’t excuse her behaviour, she has to answer to the law of the land, but we have to use her as an example as to how we can turn her around to become a spokesperson for good parenting,” he told the media after the story went viral.
But what is the true definition of “good parenting” in the face of the twin tigers of crushing poverty and chronic unemployment? Dyer and her five children wait for the answers.