Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 26th 2013 Contents A31
Tuesday, March 26, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
"What s wrong with our chil-
dren? Adults telling children to be
honest while lying and cheating.
Adults telling children to not be
violent while marketing and glori-
fying war and violence...I believe
that adult hypocrisy is the biggest
problem children face in Ameri-
ca..." ---Marian Wright Edleman
Marian Wright Edelman
(dob 1939) is a pretty
although most Trinis will not
know anything about her. She is
not a military person. She does
not play football or basketball.
Nor does she attend Hollywood
red carpet events.
She was the first African
American woman admitted to the
Mississippi Bar after graduating
from Yale Law School in 1963. In
1973, she founded the Children's
Defense Fund, an advocacy and
research centre for issues affect-
ing poor, minority and disabled
She is the recipient of the
2000 Presidential Medal of Free-
dom, the highest civilian award
in the United States.
The Web site of the Ministry
of Gender, Youth and Child
Development (mgycd.gov.tt) is an
interesting place. It's nicely
designed and has pretty colours.
It's easy to surf and all seems
fine until you actually try to find
out what the ministry is about
and what it does. Then you sink
into a morass of startling affir-
mations, poor English, and con-
fused sentences masquerading as
"Mission Statements," "Purpose"
and "Vision." A favourite word
seems to be "holistic." Anytime
you hear someone saying "holis-
tic," run! A more over-used
adjective, devoid of real signifi-
cance, there never was.
It says its "Main Purpose" is
"to lead, facilitate, support and
monitor the advancement of gen-
der equality and the holistic
development of children and
young people. This will be
achieved by spearheading rights-
based policies and programmes,
service delivery and information
dissemination, in collaboration
with the stakeholders."
Not bad. If it was being done.
Its "Mission" is "to provide
effective leadership on issuesde-
velopment, related to gender and
development and effective child
and youth evidence based policy
making and implementation of
quality services (868) by ensuring
and programmes, planning; mon-
itoring; and evaluation and stake-
holder collaboration." "Issuesd-
velopment" is written exactly like
that and in the context of the
paragraph must constitute a new
word because the rest of the
wording is equally impenetrable
to the rational mind.
After that dismally constructed
mission statement, I refused to
spend much time on the vision
statement, which is full of high-
faluting phrases such as:
quality, people centred services...
standards of excellence" etc etc,
all of which have little to do with
what is happening in our streets.
Their "Services" seem to be
divided into National Family
Service, Gender Development,
Youth Development and Child
Development. I will leave the first
two to the Network of NGOs for
the Advancement of Women for
comment. Or, you can read what
Hazel Brown has to say about
the Gender Policy in last Satur-
The "Youth Development Serv-
ice" says they are "Promoting the
participation of young people in
decision-making and the imple-
mentation of programmes and
policies." Nah! The most they
seem to do is to host vacation
camps. There is also a volunteer
programme which, after the usual
pious declarations of intent, takes
up the rest of the page. Each
time you click on the four lovely
pictures at the bottom, the infor-
mation about this volunteer pro-
gramme is repeated.
The "Child Development Serv-
ice" is said to "encourage in our
children a strong self-image
based on a deep profound under-
standing of self." This one
comes complete with the pictures
of three Caucasian youths in
their late teens or early 20s.
Check it out!
The images are quite startling
in view of the "self-image" phi-
losophy, "based on a deep pro-
found understanding of self," and
worthy of psychological opinion.
The fact that the "Service" is
about "Child Development" yet
shows young adults, demon-
strates a complete lack of under-
standing about what a child is
and about child development.
The only other reference to
"Child Development" relates to
something called the "Interdisci-
plinary Child Development Cen-
tre" (ICDC) in Couva. This is
described as "a government-
funded pre-school facility that
serves the underprivileged...The
function of the Centre is to pro-
vide early childhood education,
nutrition and stimulation."
In other words, it's a day care
centre. Not that you would
appreciate that after reading the
fancy-sounding name: Interdisci-
plinary Child Development Cen-
At last, under the Child Devel-
opment sub-heading "Protection
Rights," you can find a specific
objective: "to protect the child
from discrimination, all forms of
abuse, violence, exploitation,
substance abuse, injustice and
This comes complete with the
startling statement that: "Abused
children are being rescued by
authorities regularly and meas-
ures have been put in place to
cover more ground."
Everyone and their nennen who
are involved in trying to help
abused children or anyone who
reads the papers regularly know
that this is nonsense.
After the exposes we heard at
the recent Violence Against Chil-
dren Conference, and the scan-
dalous lack of funding for the
Children's Authority, it would
seem that this ministry needs to
take a closer look at the words of
Mrs Wright Edleman. If you are
not part of the solution, you are
part of the problem.
DAVID E BRATT, MD
GENDER, YOUTH AND CHILD MINISTRY: PROBLEM OR SOLUTION?
This comes complete with
the startling statement
that: "Abused children are
being rescued by authorities
regularly and measures
have been put in place to
cover more ground."
Everyone and their nennen
who are involved in trying
to help abused children or
anyone who reads the
papers regularly know that
this is nonsense.
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