Parents, it begins with you
WHEN IT comes to displays of wayward or recalcitrant behaviour by children, parents need to accept that there is a lot more at stake than being embarrassed.
Both the Government and civil society organisations have placed too many resources at the disposal of parents for those who bring children into this world, or who through circumstances have found themselves playing this role, to throw their hands in the air in despair.
That’s why we believe there is significant merit in the position taken by chief executive officer of Supreme Counselling for Personal Development, Shawn Clarke, that too often when we hear of troubled teens we need to look at the conduct of parents.
There can be no doubt that even at a young age some of our minors, after exposure to the greatest of care from parents providing a more than adequate household and family structure, still choose to engage in behaviour upon which society can only frown.
But in many of the cases, especially where young people, especially girls, run away from home they do so in a desperate cry for help. It is very easy for strangers to instantly label them, often in terms laced with suggestions of deviant sexual behaviour, but as Mr Clarke has pointed out, there is more to be gained by looking at what they are running from as opposed to what they are running to.
But the larger problem, again as the counsellor has pointed out, is that the solution can require intervention from outside the family – a step that some parents just are not comfortable taking. However, left unattended, there is always the risk that it will reach the public domain in terms that are even more embarrassing. We don’t believe any household welcomes the publication of public service notices from the police asking for assistance in locating one of their members.
Organisations such as PAREDOS and the Juvenile Liaison Scheme of the Royal Barbados Police Force have excellent track records of assisting challenged children and they have been successful because they treat the issues as family matters and not just of the child involved.
Whether or not the adults in our midst want to admit it, today’s teenager faces a variety of challenges that many who walked that road before never encountered and unless we are prepared to acknowledge this as a fact, many will find themselves continuing to look on from the sidelines asking: “What wrong with our young people?” But they really are not looking for an answer.
It is also clear from the feedback from our teachers and school administrators that the estranged relationships in many households today are highly influenced by economic pressures. Children who can find no peace at home and no solace at school, where they are led to believe that education can be the great saviour, will act out their frustrations in ways our society will not appreciate.
Violence, drug abuse, turning to the block, sexual deviance and other forms of anti-social behaviour often have their genesis in problems that have gone unattended in the household. Parents need to use the services that are available to them — if not for their own sake, then for that of their children.