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A crisis of parenting

Published:Sunday | May 6, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Opposition spokesperson on education and human resources, Marisa Dalrymple-Philibert's Child Month message

On behalf of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), I am pleased to bring greetings during Child Month 2012, in this year of our jubilee.

However, this observance serves as a reminder that we have not served our children as well as we should have.

Our children are still subject to abuse and being undereducated. We should, therefore, use this month as an opportunity to pause and look at life from a child's perspective.

Today, our children and youth are just as special and valuable as they have ever been, and our traditional background of caring families and communities remains present in most of their lives.

I emphasise that many parents, relatives and officials from a range of sectors within our society are working diligently to uphold our children's rights under the law and instil critical moral values while providing thoughtful stewardship over those in their care.

The JLP recognises that the need to empower children is clearly evident, for the boys and girls of today are invariably more precocious, because of the reality of the explosion in global media.

They are exposed at a much younger age to the facts and fallacies of the 'adult' world. Furthermore, these children are so much more technologically astute than previous generations.

During their very impressionable years, we must remember the many predators that can be found on almost every corner - from street corners in their neighbourhoods, to popular Internet chat rooms.

If we could see and hear life using their senses, we would realise that our children are targeted on a daily basis with graphic images, actions and words, which are manifest in everything from TV shows to video games and much of popular music.

In the process of growing up, their ever-curious minds and hands have much more freedom than in the past.

Instead of allowing television and videos to serve as time-fillers, we should redouble our efforts to ensure that they are well guided, and that our children are learning and developing at the appropriate pace.

We should also realise the confusion they face in the conflicting messages and examples being set by many adults, compounded as they enter adolescence by the pressures of peer groups.

This is why among other important initiatives we put in place to better support our nation's teachers and parents, the JLP supports the continuation of the plan to reintroduce civics in the school curriculum as a specific Jamaica 50 activity, and the reinforcement of our national pride and proper observation of our national symbols and emblems.

We want, as a Christian country, a more caring and nurturing society. We want again a society of law and order; a society where caring for our children is paramount.

Recent reports on the abuse of our children must spur us to root out of our society these maladies and provide a safer environment for the prosperity of our children.

The JLP reminds the nation that debate on the proposed National Parenting Support Policy and the implementation of the National Parenting Support Commission are indeed urgent.

We have a crisis of parenting in this country. Many of our parents must be far more responsible and accountable and must partner with our schools to ensure students are disciplined and do their school work so as to maximise their full potential.

Let us make our 50th anniversary a dedication to, and a celebration of, our future - our children.