Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 2nd 2015 Contents A32
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Wednesday, December 2, 2015
We are a violent society. There s no doubt
in my mind that despite the global happiness
index we love to tout, we are a spiteful, hate-
ful, cruel bunch masking under a façade,
which is necessary for our day-to-day exis-
tence. It hurts me to say that, especially
because of my other better experiences with
people who exhibit quite the opposite of that
Trinidad is nice, but for the most part, the
paradise has as much value as the candy that
was sold in my childhood days (Paradise
plum---a hard candy worth a penny back then).
While driving in "town" recently after five
years of living in rural Trinidad, I followed a
driver through a turn.
He went through and as I was about to fol-
low, a vehicle came threateningly from my
left and pulled in front of me---the driver
almost resurrected my dead mother, such was
the cussing I got in her name.
It turned out that I had followed the driver
through an illegal turn. He got away and I
didn't. So I rolled down my window to politely
ask what I should do since I really did not
understand where I had to go. For that, I
became a "f***ing a**hole" and sundry other
things before I was told dismissively "It have
a f***king roundabout up so for a**holes just
At least I deciphered the "instructions," so
I reversed and headed in the direction he point-
ed, found the roundabout, pulled on the shoul-
der and cried. Yes I did. So bruising was the
The man cussing me looked old enough to
be my father so I assumed the schoolchildren
in the car may have been his grandchildren.
I cried for them too, before I composed myself
and drove home deciding there is nothing I
need in "town," where the roads have changed
so much, that could get me to drive out again.
We can be so unkind, unloving, and unfor-
giving, I'm thinking that whatever else we
count as reasons for murders and other violent
crimes here, like drugs and gang warfare, could
only account in part for so many murders
annually. Hatred, angst, and anger, to me,
would be greater factors.
Yet when teenagers and adolescents display
anger, as in the recent brawlings that have
been featured in news, I am bemused by our
pontifications. There is a prescription from
every circle; everyone knows exactly how to
In turn, parents are bashed, schools are
pulled down and the teenagers (mostly girls
in this last season) are made to bear the labels
that only a Trini could place on such situations.
The drop-jaw disbelief that this could actually
happen is also a part of our mimicry as a soci-
ety.TTUTA starts pointing fingers imputing
(and possibly rightly so) violence in the homes.
The police service says these brawls are so
violent we should call the police rather than
I'm shaking my head so violently at that
last one it must account for my migraine,
because I'm thinking that displayed rage may
end in a homicide while we wait for police.
My deepest concern would continue to be
the lack of pre-emptive action for dealing
with the issues that adolescence is certain to
introduce into the lives of our children.
I do not believe for one minute that what
we see is anything novel in terms of teen's
behaviour. I believe that seeing it, replaying
it and sharing it too, create a wider audience.
There is no simple solution to teen anger
and violence. There is neither short cut nor
quick fix. The sooner T&T gets to early-life
intervention with our children and preventive
care for their mental wellbeing, the better our
chances of reducing societal violence in the
For now, sadly I foresee an escalation.
"The teenage years are difficult to get
through," says www.livestrong.com.
"Physical and emotional changes occur at
a rapid pace, and the need for acceptance
gains importance in a teenager's life.
"Hormones take over, emotions run high
and every teen has to learn how to cope with
the new changes. They are also learning to
get along with others and discovering their
"Learning to adapt to these changes can
create anger and sometimes even aggression
in some teenagers. Understanding the causes
of anger and aggression may help parents,
teachers, and even teens themselves alleviate
these symptoms." (www.livestrong.com)
According to the American Academy of
Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, some of
these factors include: "being the victim of
physical abuse and/or sexual abuse, exposure
to violence in the home and/or community,
genetic (family heredity) factors, exposure to
violence in media...marital breakup, single
parenting, unemployment" and more.
Imagine we process upwards of 17,000 ado-
lescents, teens and preteens every year into
secondary school with nary an intervention
to treat with their individual trauma. Nary a
thought for their mental health status and
hardly a care that we are provided with a cap-
tive occasion for intervention.
To be continued
MENTAL HEALTH MATTERS
Teenage years are difficult to manoeuvre
CAROLINE C RAVELLO
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