Psychologists needed at school

GUESTXCOLUMNOver the past couple of months, there has been an upsurge in violent behaviour at several secondary schools across Barbados, the most recent involving a 14-year-old Ellerslie Secondary student. The call for expulsion, according to the president of the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union, Mary Redman, her union’s decision, is in keeping with the Ministry Of Education Code Of Discipline.

As a trained forensic psychologist, I tend to agree with the views of Attorney General, Ariel Brathwaite that expulsion of the student is not the most favourable decision, and a better process should be put in place to deal with this matter expediously.

In any matter, an individual should be given the right to due process in order to facilitate the wheels of natural justice. This process should be unbiased and impartial at all levels of the investigation. This approach is based on the same premise as when an accused is charged with murder and must be given the right to an attorney and a hearing in court before a sentence is handed down.

Many views suggested the child was displaying behavioural problems over a period of time. If this is true, early intervention should have been a priority to combat future deviant acts. While I do not condone the abuse of any teacher, I believe if teachers observe deviant behaviour in the classroom, they have to act swiftly to prevent the same behaviours from escalating into greater behavioural problems.

At times, a child displays deviant behaviour in the classroom as a result of many other problems at home. While principals are allowed to discipline a child, they need not be so hasty in applying strict disciplinary approaches without examining the precursors to deviant behaviour such as low self-esteem, low self-worth, exposure to sexual abuse, physical abuse and child maltreatment, and early exposure to deviant behaviour.

If they are not in a position to do this, then they should refer the child to other agencies in a timely manner.

Many times children are not valued within the home environment and no one cares enough to offer love, support, attention and affection. If a child is raised in an environment where deviance is the culture, the modus operandi of deviance will emerge in most encounters.

Parents need to build better relationships with teachers in the event that their children misbehave in any manner. One reality of being a parent is to be involved in the child’s life at every level of development. Parents must observe when behaviours change and be quick to address them, because early deviant acts can lead to juvenile delinquency and criminal behaviour.

Schools and universities all over the world employ psychologists because they understand children present with behavioural problems and challenges from time to time. Clearly, there is the need for psychologists to be stationed in our schools throughout Barbados. While guidance counsellors have a role to play, they can become overloaded since they teach part of the curriculum. I do not believe we need social workers in schools because psychologists are better equipped to manage the problems.

(Rennette M. Dimmott is a forensic psychologist and author.)

8 Responses to Psychologists needed at school

  1. Ras Unjay
    Ras Unjay April 28, 2016 at 11:09 am

    right on,i see things through your eyes,and that my point.

  2. Queenie ShaSha
    Queenie ShaSha April 28, 2016 at 11:22 am

    Longggggg overdue…in the school not in the ministry waiting on referrals. kIds have alottt of issues that aren’t being dealt with.

  3. Shelly Ross
    Shelly Ross April 28, 2016 at 12:02 pm

    In agreement with the above, but I am not sure why they overlook the teachers and management of the school all the time.
    There need to be stricter qualifications and checking for persons applying for the post of teacher and principal as some teachers aslo bring personal problems to school and as a result children suffer and are shown some very bad examples.
    For eg. Over the last three weeks in one primary school two young children ages 9 and 7 were physically abused by their teacher.
    Both students are top students, they have no behavioural problems and they have very good parental support from a two parent family.
    In one case, a boy going into class was told by his teacher that he did not say good morning and the teacher badly beat that child leaving him to see a doctor.
    In another case a 7 year old girl barely 54 lbs accidentally stepped on the teacher’s foot while reaching for her bag and he abused her and she too had to seek medical care.
    Now why would a teacher do the above unless ofcourse, he has some issues going on.
    In another report to me from a secondary school an English teacher told the class –
    -If any of wunna try dat wid me, I gine get three free meals a day- That same teacher made another comment to the same class,
    -Wunna not gine see much of me for the rest of the term because I have exams coming up and I got to study and when I drop my daughter off at the nursery, I aint coming in blank school to deal wid nobody stinking children.-
    If we have such teachers in schools, we still have problems and therefore both teachers and students issues must be addressed.

  4. Natalia Reid
    Natalia Reid April 28, 2016 at 12:05 pm

    I agree with this to an extent. I will always advocate for the appointment of social workers to borne secondary and primary schools. Not just visiting from the CCB. Not attached to the Welfare dept. They must be stationed at schools and be there daily. Psychologists cannot do half of what social workers do, but social workers can counsel, do home.visits, do referrals to necessary agencies for assistance for child and family, among other things. Involve social workers in the schools, they are a necessary asset in this country.

  5. Damian Hinkson
    Damian Hinkson April 28, 2016 at 12:44 pm

    i firmly believe the problem lies in the structure of the school system there needs to be self regulation. you have to week our abuse of power first.

  6. Donna Harewood April 28, 2016 at 3:07 pm

    So true that many children bring aerious problems from home to school. Can you imagine how a powder keg can be set alight by further abuse by a teacher?

  7. Veronica A. Piggott
    Veronica A. Piggott April 28, 2016 at 11:02 pm

    They are needed at the school for some of the parents who encourages the children

  8. Donna Harewood May 1, 2016 at 9:37 pm

    Unfortunately Ms. Ross I don’t find it very hard to believe your stories. You are bringing to light what I have known for a long time.


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