Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 22nd 2017 Contents The wanton violence permeating society is an obvious
reflection that some of this country's parents are con-
tinously failing their children.
The issue was brought to the fore during a panel discus-
sion, titled "Crime and Violence in Relation to Social Jus-
tice---The Role of the Church," at the Holy Trinity Cathedral
in Port-of-Spain yesterday.
Elizabeth Sealy, a trained moderator who also works in
the area of human trafficking, bemoaned the fact that more
teenagers, especially boys, were gravitating towards gangs.
"Why is it that the gangs seem to be more attractive to
these young persons than perhaps church activities? There
is a lot of decline in the youths attending church," Sealy
"It begins at the home and we need to befriend these
children because this is what the leaders of the gangs are
doing. They are offering sympathy and comfort and some-
times we as parents are too busy and therefore the gang
leaders look particularly for those that are vulnerable."
She called on parents to examine their role as nurturers,
adding they must also be part of their children's schooling.
"They must be interested in what their child does at
school because at the schools now there are also gangs,"
She said in cases of misbehaviour, the parent must instill
appropriate discipline, saying the "authoritarian style" was
not always the answer.
"Age appropriate-style discipline is important, especially
for teenagers and we need to look at privileges and that
would affect the way in which they respond to discipline,"
It is also important for children to be praised as this helps
to build positive character, she said.
"When children have low self esteem the gang leaders
step in ... they praise them and then encourage them to get
involved in nefarious activities," Sealy said.
The church's interim rector Fr Carl Williams, who echoed
similar sentiments, said within recent times he had to bury
several young men who were murdered.
Describing the situation as unfortunate, he said he has
personally been going to hotspot areas to encourage troubled
youths to turn away from a life of crime and violence.
"A lot of these persons are angry and frustrated and what
is happening in society is some of them are committing
suicide and we need to reach out to them and we have a
responsibility to commit to them ... it is not only about
giving food and clothes," Williams said.
PARENTS NOT HEEDING AUTHORITIES
Probation officer and social worker Marianne Taylor says
parenting skills must be "top on the agenda" in any society,
if the problems of crime and violence are to be effectively
Questioning how boys were being raised, Taylor said, "We
need to instill strong values for positive development so
that we could have responsible citizens who respect them-
selves and the community."
Taylor, also a member of the Rape Crisis Society, also
dealt with the issue of proper parenting, saying if parents
were involved in criminal acts it was obvious their children
would follow that pattern, thus perpetuating the cycle. If
such parents also do not view education as important, then
their children would not be encouraged to pursue proper
schooling and create a better future for themselves, she
On domestic violence, she expressed concern that some
still did not see this as a crime again, resulting in the per-
petuation of violence, especially when children are exposed
"This therefore becomes the norm for children. So when
children go to school and the teacher says something to
them, their immediate response is to lash out and when
they grow older they become involved in other acts," Tay-
"We are seeing a number of murders which are a result
of domestic violence."
Regarding the role of the church, she recommended
educational and other outreach programmes.
tobagotoday.co.tt February 22 - 2017
Counsellor: Children forced
to Parent Themselves
Community Activist and Substance Abuse Counsellor,
Vida Romeo-Guy, says our children need positive role
models so that order can be restored to Tobago.
Speaking at a community outreach program in Plymouth
last week, she said similar efforts to reach out to the com-
munity are becoming increasingly challenging.
"I have always been involved in community work. It's
something I'm passionate about, so when I walk the streets
I always stop and speak with the young people on the block
to give them a listening ear, words of encouragement and
She said comments from the guys on the block include
their inability to secure a job although they have GCE and
CSEC passes and training courses. She said her duty is to
push and guide them.
The activist says a lot of the young people are frustrat-
ed because they do not have a set purpose, and this often
leads them to get involved in what she calls "mischief"
Noting that the movement away from the traditional
support system of the extended family is the root cause of
many social ills she said children are forced to take on adult
roles at a much younger age.
"When they wake up mummy already left for work, they
get home from school they have their own keys to the house
because mummy has gone to another job or class. Our kids
are forced to parent themselves."
Children are very vocal and aware, she said.
"They will tell you which politician or pastor did what
and what persons in the community are doing. When our
children don't have positive role models to look up to they
turn to all kinds of negative influences they find on their
computer devices and cell phones or follow bad company
because they don't have that strong foundation at home."
She said she has often gone above and beyond the call
of duty and taken persons to fill out application forms.
"Our children just need a little support, or a push to
really fulfill their potential sometimes when I approach the
parents, they say, 'Me I don't have time to so and so I
my next side hustle' so that's where I feel I have to step in
as a parent to some of these children."
Romeo--Guy said she has often resorted to chasing after
several young persons to get them off the streets.
She said despite the need to fulfil children's physical
needs parents should integrate some of the traditional ide-
als to save their children.
"Children need to understand that they are children and
therefore should not engage in things meant for adults. Yes,
things are changing but I remember a time when a boy had
to write to a girl's parents expressing interest in dating a
girl -- and those dates were home visits in the full view of
the entire family."
She said a return to spirituality is also needed as Tobago
has a spiritual tradition with each village having several
churches representing different religions. "I grew up during
a time when attending church was mandatory as a child,
now some of our churches are empty."
Romeo-Guy said learning from the past is necessary to
create a better future.
CHURCH PANEL SAYS PARENTS FAILING CHILDREN
Recruiting gangs getting edge
Father Carl Williams
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