Fri | Dec 14, 2018

Loneliness, neglect leading children into psychotic behaviour

Published:Friday | February 23, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Wolmer's Boys' School in Kingston.

Lack of adequate psychiatric services in Jamaica for children and the fact that many parents are too caught up in their professions have been cited by consultant psychiatrist Dr E. Anthony Allen as major contributing factors to youth harbouring suicidal or terrorist thoughts.

Speaking with The Gleaner on Tuesday, on the heels of reports of a Wolmer's Boys' School student, in a voice note, allegedly threatening to carry out an attack against fellow schoolmates, Allen expressed fear that more of these cases exist than the public is aware of.

"There is an increasing lack in adequate parenting. More marriages are falling apart, and, therefore, there is less consensus between parents in child rearing. Children are becoming increasingly lonely because they have fewer positive interactions with parents and peers. There is also an increase in abuse. There is even an increase of bullying in schools and anyone can develop illnesses like depression from that.

"At least 25 per cent of people get psychological illnesses, including depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. They find it difficult to ventilate to their parents and may not have enough friends," Allen said.

"Fortunately, the fellow sent the thing to his teacher. There are probably only two child psychiatrists in the public system for the whole country, and that is telling a tale. The Government needs to provide more child psychiatric services and more guidance counsellors."

The Wolmerian admitted to detectives after being brought in for questioning along with his parents that he had attempted suicide twice before.

Also, a family member reportedly caught him reading a book with 666 imprinted on it.

That incident followed closely behind the latest mass school shooting in the United States, where 17 persons were killed in Florida.

"Being neglected in Jamaica, just like abroad, you are going to see more cases like this young man. We can focus on safety and security in schools, but that is not the main issue. The main issue is to see that each child is loved, respected, and receives adequate human development. There is a greater need for guidance counsellors in schools, parenting education, and we need more youth clubs in communities," declared Allen.