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Missing link

A worrying disclosure was made today that an average of 150 secondary school students pass through counselling annually, as senior child care officials pointed the accusing finger at parents for “throwing their children to the wolves” of life, forcing them to revert to pornography, inappropriate sexual behaviour, drugs and violence.

The officials from the Probation Department and drugs prevention and guidance counselling services further expressed the concern the absence of parents in the lives of their children and their hypocritical behaviour had plunged these young ones into a state of confusion.

Chief Probation Officer Dorita Lovell said one of the major challenges being faced by minors was the lack of consistent, specific and clear values from their parents.

“You take for example, the television. One would expect that in a home, certain programmes would be screened . . . . [for] what is age appropriate. But that doesn’t happen in most homes. You see the babies sitting among whatever age group watching, whether it is porn or violence. They are part of it,” the Chief Probation Officer declared.

“So we have these shifting values and norms; no consistency and the children are confused,” she added.

Lovell was concerned that even when minors were allowed to watch inappropriate movies, the adults in the home did not explain what was being depicted.

She was also concerned that children were no longer able to differentiate between what was private and what was public, since everything was now being conducted in the open these days.

Chairman of the board of trustees of the Centre for Counselling Addiction Support Alternative (CASA), Orlando Jones, was even more condemning of parents, saying many these days were missing in action.

“Why I am saying this, is because, we run a lot of programmes

for children. Within our programme violence, were also crying out for love, attention and

there are elements where parent education is key to our success with the children. The problem is that very often, the parents do not come. They give you all kinds of excuses for not turning up for the session, and yet the parents expect the children to perform and to do well,” complained Jones, whose agency undertakes a drug counselling and prevention programme, anger management and self-esteem for all secondary schools in Barbados.

Jones, who is a professional social worker, also identified the adoption of foreign systems of parenting, as another reason for the problems being exhibited by children.

“I think we have really adopted too much of the non- Barbadian models of parenting and bringing up children. We have adopted American and European principles and we have lost the plot, basically,” he said, noting that about 150 secondary school students pass through his CASA programme every year.

While attributing loss of parents through death, divorce and imprisonment to much of the anger and delinquency by students, professional guidance counsellor Sandra Harris also blamed dysfunctional homes as another reason.

Harris, a guidance counsellor at the Daryll Jordan Secondary School and early childhood worker for 14 years, said most children who gravitated to porn, inappropriate sex, drugs and

somebody to talk to. “Outside of the rampant sex that is going on in the

secondary schools, and the violence and the drugs and stuff, I would say that one thing that may be causing a lot of these sexual [problems] and issues with drugs and violence, could come from a loss . . . . The families are not functioning the way that they should be, because somebody is missing,” the guidance counsellor pointed out.

Harris observed that “these children are really reaching out . . . and sometimes when they come here [to school] they don’t want to leave, because, despite the challenges, here is where they feel wanted; here is where somebody is checking on me, even if I don’t like it or accustomed to it. Most of them are not accustomed to anybody caring for them.”

The guidance counsellor is suggesting the introduction of more mentorship programmes. She believed a great portion of the solution to the challenges facing youths was a better understanding of their issues and knowing which agencies to refer them to for help.

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