Editorial | If and maybe we get parenting right
As shocking as it sounds, a six-year-old boy swearing that his ambition is to become a gunman may not be as rare as we may want to believe. Society ought to wake up and realise that there are too many vulnerable children in this country who live in dysfunctional environments and are in urgent need of intervention.
That the 29-second TikTok video of a St Catherine lad speaking about his shady ambition was seen as comic relief for persons snickering in the background, calls for serious pause.
Thankfully, the vile video drew the ire of sufficient persons of goodwill and was eventually brought to the attention of the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA), which promptly acted to offer the family support.
Societal ills, including sexual and predatory behaviour, murder, robbery, indiscipline, dishonesty, cannot all be placed on the doorstep of parents. However, there is no getting around it, a child’s life begins at home, long before he comes under the influence of friends and classmates.
There is mounting evidence that something has gone horribly wrong in the home, with the result that many young children are active participants in anti-social and criminal activities.
Our child psychologists, sociologists and healthcare professionals have for years talked about the deficiencies and gaps in parenting and the dire implications for society. Left to fester, we now see the blooming of the problem and, belatedly, more voices are calling for timely interventions to quash such ambitions and offer children the security, education and structure they need in their lives to get them on a path away from self-destructive actions.
Are we to depend solely on the CPFSA which has a mandate to provide care and protection for children who are at risk or otherwise deemed to be in need of care and protection? Do they have the human and other resources to provide these services?
A child growing up in the ‘60s and ‘70s had a different experience than today’s children. Back then, more mothers stayed at home and it was all about instilling discipline and mostly ensuring that your children had a better start in life and advanced up the economic ladder through educational accomplishments.
Today’s mother is likely to work outside the home and families are constantly busy. Also, those were the decades when the village took responsibility for growing children. Even in inner-city communities and fraying neighbourhoods, truancy and other infractions were quickly reported and swiftly dealt with. Now, the village has disintegrated and has been effectively replaced by social media.
Perhaps many adults of today can still hear their parents’ voices ringing in their ears: “Heights of great men reached and kept… Labour for learning before you grow old, because learning is better than silver and gold. A good education will never decay.”
But that was old-school parenting, the world has been altered profoundly and parents must now help their children navigate a digital world where they are confronted by loads of emotional and mental issues. For one thing, a child growing up today is more exposed to violence in the media and in their communities, which can heighten their stress levels and impair their cognitive development.
We make the bold argument that parents need new partners in their bid to become more effective in raising happy, healthy and successful adults. These partners can be found in local non-profits and local churches and community groups. Parents need not struggle alone, they can reach out for help.
We envision a future when these new partnerships will be forged with role models and community icons who can inspire children and open their minds to positive ways of life and living.