Social workers say unequipped parents contribute to many cases of uncontrollable children
Unfit and underprepared parents are being blamed for many cases of out-of-control children being handed over for state care.
A senior social worker attached to the Child Development Agency (CDA) believes that persons unequipped to be proper parents have contributed significantly to the problem. Many of the affected children are at the point where their behaviour is labelled by the law as being beyond control.
Between 2005 and 2011, more than 10,500 children were taken to the CDA because their parents thought they needed intervention for a wide range of behavioural problems.
Some of those parents and guardians were at their wits' end and just wanted the State to take the children off their hands.
But Robert Williams, team leader in the CDA's Kingston office with portfolio responsibility for courts and adoption services, says some of the children are not beyond help and just need prescribed professional intervention to get them on the right track.
"Many of the parents are not equipped. They don't know how to deal with the teenage issues, especially sexuality and drug abuse," said Williams.
"If they get the parenting practices right at the outset, some of these problems would be averted. We wouldn't have all of these people coming in," added Williams.
He charged that some of the parents never sought professional help for the child before taking them to the CDA or seeking to hand them over to the State.
"Others just can't be bothered with the challenges of parenting. It is a significant portion of those who are frustrated because of the behavioural problems being displayed by their children. Some of them feel overwhelmed," he said.
"Some people feel frustrated and they know that the State is there, so why not come and turn over my child? For some of them it is an escape but others are really trying and their own attempts have failed. Parents come in and are crying," the social worker added.
Williams said parenting seminars, offered by the CDA, are a part of the solution. "We have to go into the communities. Try to reach them at the antenatal clinics with parenting tips. This coming year, we should be going to four of the major clinics, including the one at the Victoria Jubilee Hospital," Williams revealed.
He said the spike in the number of parents taking their children to the CDA because they cannot cope may be as a result of the agency's public-awareness campaign. While cautioning that the term uncontrollable should not be applied to children loosely, Williams said the hard truth is that some of the minors taken to the CDA are beyond control.
"Some of the children are really uncontrollable. Mother try, father try, big brother try and they are just not listening. You have to agree that those children fall into the uncontrollable group because they are beyond the control of their parents or guardians," he said.