Wed | Feb 19, 2020

Many turn to drugs in state care, says psychologist

Published:Monday | February 5, 2018 | 12:00 AMJason Cross/Gleaner Writer
Dr Patrece Charles (centre), deputy executive director of National Integrity Action (NIA), in conversation with members of the panel at last Thursday's NIA town hall meeting at the Mico University College in Kingston. From left are Odayne Haughton, Jamaica Youth Ambassador – CARICOM; Santana Morris, Jamaica Youth Ambassador – United Nations Portfolio; Dr Ashburn Pinnock, principal of The Mico University College; and Benjamin Frazer, vice-president of the Jamaica Union of Tertiary Students.

Through her interaction with many 16- to 18-year-old children in state care, counselling psychologist Dr Patrece Charles believes that because their lives are so complicated, many of them turn to drugs for comfort.

Charles was speaking at a National Integrity Action town hall meeting at The Mico University College in St Andrew last Thursday.

"As a psychologist, I work with a lot of children from state homes. If you take a look at the reasons why they are in state homes, it's mostly because of the abuses they faced in their lives from their own parents, guardians and family members. Now, the majority of them are on drugs. They are smoking marijuana, and of course, you are aware of the effects marijuana can have on a young mind," she said.




She highlighted that many times when these children are sent to state homes they do not receive the best care and, despite the many abuses meted out to them by parents, some usually prefer to return home to their families.

"Is the State responsible for producing criminals? Taking that into consideration, with them being placed in a state home, where the Government is now their caregiver, they are placed in a situation that forces many of them to want to go back to their families, because of how abused they are in state homes," Charles said.

"What type of adult is going to be produced from a situation where there is no example of good morals, values or attitudes being given to those children? What do you think is going to happen when they turn 18? Where do you think they are going to go? Whose car windows are they going to be knocking on? It is only a minority of these children that are going to go on to tertiary education," Charles said.