Fri | Sep 22, 2023

Guidance counsellor: Teach parenting in schools

Published:Friday | May 26, 2023 | 1:32 AMAsha Wilks/Gleaner Writer
Romane McLeod (left), teacher, and Theodosia Millwood (second left), student of St Hugh’s High School, look on with other students at the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA) Ananda Alert Youth Forum, at Altamont Court hotel in New Kingsto
Romane McLeod (left), teacher, and Theodosia Millwood (second left), student of St Hugh’s High School, look on with other students at the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA) Ananda Alert Youth Forum, at Altamont Court hotel in New Kingston yesterday.
Barbara James, guidance counsellor of Cumberland High School, speaks at the Child Protection and Family Services Agency’s Ananda Alert Youth Forum at Altamont Court hotel in New Kingston yesterday.
Barbara James, guidance counsellor of Cumberland High School, speaks at the Child Protection and Family Services Agency’s Ananda Alert Youth Forum at Altamont Court hotel in New Kingston yesterday.
1
2

A CALL has been made for parenting education to be integrated in high school students’ curricula to limit the effects of poor parenting techniques on children.

Poor parenting techniques is said to be one of many factors influencing the number of youth going missing across the island.

The suggestion was made by Barbara James, a guidance counsellor at Cumberland High School in Portmore, St Catherine, who was in attendance at yesterday’s Child Protection and Family Services Agency Ananda Alert Youth Forum in commemoration of International Missing Children’s Day, observed on May 25.

Speaking during the panel discussion segment of the event, titled ‘The contributing factors and dangers associated with child disappearances’, James stated that the existing techniques being exercised desperately require change.

She is lobbying that by the time students transition to fourth form, they are taught proper and effective techniques in rearing children.

Reinforcing an earlier point made during the discussion, James noted that because children enter the world “without a manual”, parents tend to “draw back on what we had before”.

Romane McLeod, a teacher at St Hugh’s High School, speaking about parents not taking the mental health of their children more seriously, stated that he believed the mistreatment or neglect of children by parents was a result of generational behaviours handed down through a series of damaging parenting techniques.

The nation recorded 952 reports of missing children last year, the majority of whom were girls, who accounted for approximately 82.5 per cent. Boys contributed to 17. 5 per cent of the reports.

Each year, more than 1, 500 children are reported missing in Jamaica, many of whom run away from home. Children go missing for various reasons such as being lost, being physically, emotionally, or sexually abused, and being neglected. Some are abducted.

The majority of cases fall in the category of voluntarily missing, also known as runaways.

Carolyn Johnson, public outreach and social media coordinator at the CPFSA, stated that the agency has been going into schools from the grass-roots stages of the education system – the early childhood institutions - to engage students and their communities and inform them about their rights and where they can report abuse.

“We invite the schools to invite us in to talk to your parents as well,” she said, noting that the agency also hosted parenting sessions.

Detective Corporal Diana Grant, missing person coordinator of the St Catherine South Police Division, in her presentation, stated that within her division, 55 per cent of all missing persons reports involved children. Those from ages 13 to 17 were recorded the most.

For the period January 1 to May 2022, a total of 44 persons were recorded as missing. Fourteen per cent were male and 86 per cent female, said Grant.

For January 1 to May 24, this year, a total of 36 children were reported missing, of whom 64 per cent were female, she added.

She stated that some of the risks experienced by children who have gone missing include sexual exploitation, exposure to violence, becoming a victim of crime, losing out on education, and becoming addicted to alcohol and illegal drugs.

The public is encouraged to report a child missing immediately once that child’s whereabouts cannot be reasonably accounted for.

asha.wilks@gleanerjm.com

To report a child who has gone missing or been abducted, contact:

1. National Children’s Registry (NCR) Toll free: 888-PROTECT (776-8328)

2. The police at 119

3. Child Abuse helpline at 211

4. The Ananda Alert secretariat at 876-908-1690 or via email at anandaalert@childprotection.gov.jm