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Behaviour change champion urges parents not to give up on troublesome children

Published:Sunday | October 28, 2018 | 12:00 AM

Chief Probation After-Care Officer Sylvia Elveda Saddler is imploring parents not to give up on their children who display behavioural problems.

“They need your unconditional love,” she said, while urging them to seek professional help where necessary.

 “I know it’s hard at times but yes, talk with them; if it is even five minutes. Sometimes, they misbehave because they want the attention of their parents,” she pointed out.

Saddler said a number of juveniles, who end up in the correctional system are children, whose parents would have given up on them. “Efforts should have been made to try to reform these individuals,” she noted.

She is further advising parents to keep in touch with school guidance counsellors to find out how their children are behaving at school.

Saddler was speaking to JIS NEWS after receiving the Badge of Honour for 37 years of contribution to the Department of Correctional Service (DCS) at the National Honours and Awards Ceremony held on October 15 at King’s House, St. Andrew.

She had received a Medal of Honour for Meritorious Service in 2007.

Saddler is in charge of supervising and coordinating the activities of seven probation offices in Region One.

 “I have enjoyed the job from the day I joined the service in November 2, 1981 at a correctional centre for girls,” she told JIS NEWS.

There, she spent nine years as a home economics instructor before becoming a probation after-care officer in 1990.

Her duties include the supervision of offenders with non-custodial sentences; former inmates, who have been granted parole; preparing social enquiry reports to assist judges in determining appropriate sentence for offenders, and for the Parole Board to determine the suitability of eligible inmates to be granted parole.

Over the years, she has been instrumental in the transformation of the probation service. She played a significant role in the review of the Parole Act, the conditional release manual and the reclassification of the probation system.

Saddler told JIS NEWS that she is grateful to be recognised with a national award for her contribution to the DCS, and for the opportunity to help transform the lives of offenders.

 “I always felt that I could help (offenders) to make a change in their lives. I enjoyed working with the courts to help the young ones to grow. It is a passion that I have for serving,” she said.

She recalled a text from a young lady on Mother’s Day 2018 which states, ‘Thank you for believing in me when no one else did.’

“It really made my day. I have followed a few of those who were in the juvenile correctional centre, and they have done extremely well,” she said.

Saddler pledged to share her knowledge and expertise with others in the system in order to ensure continuity when she retires.

 “I want to prepare those who are there to take on the supervisory roles and to ensure that they have that foundation, knowledge of the job that when persons like me exit the system they would have been prepared to carry on,” she said.

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