Our Readers' Opinions
April 29, 2011
Child Abuse Prevention is everyone’s business


Editor: Child Abuse Prevention has been headlining the month of April for over two decades. However, this important family strengthening initiative did not come into meaningful focus until recently.{{more}} I would venture to say that not until the horrific death of Lokeisha Nanton was the true significance of the month fully appreciated by Vincentians. Since then, we have grown accustomed to the usual reactionary diatribe as we camouflage in self-righteous clothing, saying the right things to impress. No surprise then that this national facade does not outlast the month.

Nevertheless, the effort of MP Frederick Stevenson and his Family and Gender Affairs team should be applauded for their thrust in heightening child abuse and neglect awareness to a higher level. Here is hoping that their renewed interest in promoting an ethos that would facilitate strong communities is sustained in order to protect children and the family. However, this remains a daunting task, given the diminishing roles of parents and social agents like the church and the school. The degradation of our moral standards also poses a formidable challenge, since the children are usually the victims.

Much of today’s child abuse is rooted in the fact that the majority of today’s parents are the worst examples to be emulated by young and impressionable minds. It often starts with the father abandoning his paternal post and compounded by the mother verbally beating the self esteem out of the child, letting him/her know how much he/she reminds her of his/her worthless pupa! The practice of parents using expletives in their children’s presence has sadly become the norm. So, too, has the practice of parents encouraging dishonesty among their children. Some parents are also guilty of not allowing their children to be kids before they can be adults, as evidenced by their mature dressing and hairstyles, even in church and school.

Our society has retrogressed in most cases of parenting that it is now a matter of the tail wagging the dog. This manifests itself daily when children (as early as pre-teens) often override their parents’ orders to go to church or even school. Indeed, some parents have little control over the content or duration of the television programmes viewed by their crafty children. These parents are equally helpless in relation to parental control and monitoring of their children’s Internet access. This is where children often become virtual strangers, lost in their own homes! Prohibited sites, especially pornographic domains, are often visited. Here is where the unsuspecting child can be confronted by unscrupulous elements with warped agendas! Parents, take heed!!!

It is imperative to note that child abuse is not only confined to the home; its tentacles are also extended to the school. Some teachers use corporal punishment as a first resort to conflict resolution, instead of introducing pupils to dialogue and diplomacy in the classroom. Little do they know that by flogging them for mistakes they are in fact sending the wrong signal to these confused youngsters. The child’s critical thinking and exploratory skills are stifled, since he is often left with the notion that failure is not an option. Nonetheless, experts have shown that corporal punishment serves mainly to incinerate hostile tendencies which are normally ventilated in violent outbursts.

No where should a child be afraid to make mistakes as he manipulates and explores his world. Instead, he should be given the encouragement and freedom to learn through discovery, which includes trial and error. The practice of preparing students for exams rather than for life is also condemning the less academic child to failure. Additionally, the child is humiliated, as his efforts are ridiculed while the high flyer’s performance is praised. A true teacher maximizes the holistic capacity of his pupils rather than bulldozes them into a curriculum-strapped world.

In closing, I wish to ask my captive readers the following questions:

1. If children should be discouraged from gambling, is it fair for an adult to instruct a child to purchase Lotto tickets for him/her?

2. In this era of education explosion, is it fair to deprive a child by confining her home to perform babysitting and household duties?

3. Why are there so many instances of under-aged pregnancies?

Child abuse prevention should be a national undertaking, since it takes a village to raise a child.

Collin CA$H Haywood