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I HAVE SPOKEN AT LENGTH about this issue and former Prime Minister Owen Arthur’s assertion that men are failing the country and not stepping up to their parental responsibility, finds favour with me.
In my opinion, our fathers need help. Not only with a job to provide for their families, but they need “responsibility” now more than ever.
They need the responsibility that comes with having to get their children ready for school. They need the responsibility of preparing and packing lunch for their children. They need the opportunity to help their children with homework and to make sure that their children get to and from school safely and on time. It is this responsibility that our men and our fathers are lacking.
Now while there are cases where fathers voluntarily neglect their responsibilities, there are also many fathers who are denied their roles as a participant in the positive development of their children for a diverse set of reasons. And until we get serious as a nation, until we begin to understand that a nation without the participation of its fathers is one where indiscipline will fester, we will continue to see and to lament over the deleterious effects of this social breakdown.
When I reflect on my upbringing, it would be a stretch to suggest that I was not deviant and “hard ears”. Had it not been for the positive male role models in my household and, by extension, my community, I may very well have been a frequent visitor to Her Majesty’s Glendairy, given my temperament at the time.
I understand, like many others, how as boys we worked assiduously to prove and to lay claim to our masculinity. But it was my involvement with the Scouts and Cadets that also contributed to steering me and many other young men towards a positive path.
It is on that note that I support Mr Arthur’s call for a compulsory national youth service through participation in the Girl Guides, Scouts, Cadets, Key Club and so on. These institutions have provided many of our young people with positive outlets in which to channel their bubbling spirits.
We were taught respect for others and how to care for ourselves. We were taught self-restraint and self-discipline, but most importantly, we were taught how to take responsibility.
Rescuing our young people is not just one of those other social issues that we have to contend with. Rescuing our young people is in essence guaranteeing that our future prosperity as a people is secured.
Barbadians, let us come together to get more of our fathers involved in the care and control of their children. Let us join hands in guiding our young people and let us work as a nation to reverse the alarming trends that we are seeing almost on a daily basis making headlines in our newspapers. Let us join hands to rescue our youth.
– SEAN ST CLAIR FIELDS