Herro Blair Jr | If we can't beat our children ...
Here we are in 2017 talking about abuse of children by parents. The beating of the young girl in
St Thomas by her mother has many people pointing fingers at a lady who is said to be the mother of her community. On the heels of that are charges for a mother who loves her daughter and wants to see her prepared for the real world.
Now there is talk about eradicating physical punishment from a country that continues to follow all the laws and ways of America without understanding the difference in cultural behaviours.
Why is it that we want to talk about eradicating physical punishment when no one is talking to the nation about options in dealing with our children? Certainly, the use of a machete is extreme, and so, too, many other things being used by parents. However, where are the lessons for parents?
Changing laws do not help without making people aware of how to proceed with their lives. Most Americans are able to send their children to their rooms or take away a phone, iPad or some other possession. Are we saying that parents in Jamaica have these options at their disposal? Maybe some do, but I must say to the Government, we cannot go forward copying what others are doing, while we refrain from teaching our country how to proceed in a more modern way within a Jamaican context.
I think there needs to be a drive to return our country to some form of discipline. We have no lessons on parenting in a culture that has lacked family structure from the inception. We see single mothers struggling, as well as parents in so-called normal homes, and we continue to foster the development of a dysfunctional society.
What do we do?
So, Mr Prime Minister and Madam Children's Advocate, what are we to do? What are parents to do after they have spoken 20 times? What are parents to do when they try to get that child off Facebook because they are posting sexual images but the child continues to post? Before you change your laws to start charging parents for loving their children in the only way they know how to, please give us the education on what to do and how to do it.
Now, can I even get more controversial and say that the American way is not going to work in most situations? Are we going to end up saying to the Government, put all the children into state care. Simply, I have seen videos of fathers thumping their sons to remind them who is the man in the house. Though I may not agree with it, I must say that the likelihood of that son disobeying that father again is minimal.
The problem is that in Jamaica, we are demanding something of parents that our children will not respond to. First-World punishment in a Third-World country sees parents and teachers being frustrated by children who have lost the art of respect. They feel they are the ones who now have the power. Madam Advocate, after we do all you want us to do and we fail, are you going to take all the disobedient children into state care?
That is impossible! Therefore, something needs to be done.
Hundreds of children are still being beaten with tree limbs and belt buckles.
We don't want that to be the case, but we don't want the police to be coming to our homes because we tell a child to hold out his hands and use a belt to slap him five times because he is disobedient.
Teachers and schools must be empowered to sanction undisciplined behaviour. The media must give space to public-service announcements as part of their contribution to society. Government entities must have an education programme in place for both parents and children that impacts the entire nation. Family development must become a part of our school curriculum.
The Church must place a renewed emphasis on youth and the family and not just have youth programmes while neglecting the parents. The prime minister must lead from the front. Sir, your voice is the one voice that can make the difference.
- The Rev Herro-Verne (Steve) Blair Jr is pastor of Gateway Deliverance Centre. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org and transformjamaica