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Husbands: Abused children cause problems at school

A senior educator is calling for action to be taken against parents whose children exhibit behavioural problems as a result of domestic violence and abuse.

Making his contribution to the debate on the Domestic Violence Protection Orders Amendment Act and Sexual Offence Amendment Bill in the Senate today, Senator Harcourt Husbands said his call was based on discussions with officers in the student services section of the Ministry of Education.

Husbands said a check with those staff up to Tuesday revealed “a multiplicity of problems that our young people in the schools whether primary, secondary, [or] nursery present”.

“But every single one of them went back to the same issue. The problem is not the children. They are children and they will do certain things. They will get involved in certain things [but] the problem they say repeatedly are the parents,” said Husbands, adding that it was difficult to get parents to turn up at the school when they were needed.

He said some children had many challenges at home that they had to confront, adding some of them were exposed to situations that impacted them negatively.

Husbands said it was therefore time that “we put our minds together to do something” to arrest the problem.

“It may not necessarily be in the form of legislation, but something to deal with these delinquent parents. We have to take some action,” he said.

“If the staff in Ministry of Education in the student services section are constantly reporting that the challenge they confront with the students are not so much about what the students are doing but the lack of parental support then we are going to have to take some kind of action in the future.

“I am not sure what it is, but based on what I hear from those people every time I talk to them, we need to do something to deal with parents who allow their children to roam our streets at night and so on. Something more has to be done,” insisted Husbands.

He said the Ministry of Education was “fully aware” of the need for social workers and guidance counsellors at the primary school level and had taken steps to address the challenges through a partnership with the Sandy Lane Trust and implementation of other intervention programmes.

However, admitting that there was need for more to be done, Husbands said Government was restrained due to “the financial situation”.

“Many of the students in our schools at the very early levels – primary, nursery – present with all kinds of problem . . . that are sometimes and in a large measure, are related to domestic issues, domestic abuse and issues that these children confront at home. It is the role of the Ministry to deal with some of these issues and challenge out some of these issues.

“We are moving towards a position where schools can share. It is not the ideal situation I know, but we are going in that area,” he said. (MM)

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