Gleaner Crime Forum | Blame the parents - Westmoreland stakeholders say poor parenting must be blamed for youth turning to a life of crime
Poor parenting must be blamed for the rapid decline in the value system of the society, which has seen youngsters between the ages of 15 and 24 years turning to a life of crime, noted Barbara Dandy, dean of discipline at the Godfrey Stewart High School in Savanna-la-Mar, Westmoreland.
"It is a fact that some of these [students] that we interface with as educators, but have lost them, are out in the society, causing the mayhem," said Dandy, who was a panellist at a Gleaner crime forum on the parish, held at the Sean Lavery Faith Hall in Savanna-La-Mar on Thursday.
"What I do know is that some of them have fallen out before they get to age 15, and one of the greatest challenges that we have as teachers is our parents. The home must take responsibility for this," she said.
"We recognise that those who are parents now, their value system needs to be clarified, but when I look at the data, most of these parents are teenage parents who need guidance themselves. But for those who are placed with us at Godfrey Stewart High School, not many of them that have completed with us have featured in these statistics."
PARENTS TOO FRIENDLY
Dandy added: "Just as how we have these simple rules that they are not adhering to, it is the same way they are going to break the laws of the land later on in life. I am going to drop it at the feet of the parents."
Bishop Mark McLean, pastor at the New Testament Church of God in Hertford, Westmoreland, supports the notion that poor parenting skills is a contributing factor to an increasing number of school-aged youngsters being lured into a life of crime.
"It is my take that in this dispensation, parents have become too much of their children's friend that they cannot correct them or tell them when they are wrong," said McLean, who is also a volunteer in the Jamaica Constabulary Force Chaplaincy Unit. "As a pastor, I have seen where you try to correct somebody's child and you are seen as a slave driver because the thing that you are correcting the child about is nothing in the eyes of the parent."
However, David Blackham, an academic and school-development consultant, does not believe that parents alone should be blamed. He argues that strategies employed in educating children over the years must be revised.
"The parents are at fault, but how can we compensate as a society? We have children going to school who do poorly in one area but do well in another area from the same broken home, so we need the ministry to understand our learners and what they are capable of," he reasoned.
For Ron Daley, parish manager at the Social Development Commission, finding a solution might prove difficult, especially for those who have gained wealth through illicit activities.
"You must understand that communities and people behave in a certain manner based on a push and a pull that is happening in society," Daley argued. "Let us not hide from the fact that this 'bling-bling' culture that exists in Westmoreland is very attractive, and it is attractive mainly to the target group that we are talking about (17 to 29 years old)."
He added: "Some of those who leave school are highly involved in what is happening. In fact, we know that some of these youngsters are rotten rich in schools, so it is very attractive - being in school, but having businesses."