EDITORIAL - Time for practical changes
Poor parenting is definitely a problem in this country and is one of the major factors behind many of Barbados’ societal ills. However, identifying the problem is only the first part, there must now be a concerted move to implement practical changes in communities to remedy the situation and improve the outlook for future generations.
This paper has long supported the idea that parenting is the most important job, yet most people receive no training towards it. There are a few parenting programmes available at times throughout the year with various organisations such as UNICEF, but the majority of people go about moulding other human beings – people with whom you will eventually come into contact and have interactions – with little or no guidance and questionable codes of conduct themselves. This has led to alarming actions amongst our youth, many caught in the media or on social media behaving very inappropriately or at times committing an illegal offence. It has also led to increasingly more aggressive and violent behaviours, which have frequently become fatal with the apparent easier access to guns.
Speaking to this problem of crime and violence recently, Director of the Criminal Justice Research and Planning Unit, Cheryl Willoughby, agreed that one of the leading contributors to crime and violence is the lack of morals and value system, which stems from poor parenting. She also supported the contention that the church has a crucial role to play, along with the school as a primary socialisation institution.
Maintaining that the state cannot legislate morality or proper values, the Director pointed to her Unit’s plan to work with churches to change behaviours, while joining with the Royal Barbados Police Force to identify and gather information within at-risk neighbourhoods. The latter, she stated, is imperative and must be done on a continuous basis because “…Barbados can no longer depend on anecdotal thought or information to pilot programmes within communities…”, and there must be an assurance that “the work that we are doing would have an impact in those communities that we deem to be the most at risk of crime and violence”.
This is an important first step to formulating a solution to rampant crime, however, we urge those involved in the effort to effect change to take a more active approach. Gathering information is an action, but is could still be described as part of the planning stage of the process. The idea to work with the church is also still in the planning stage.
It is time for more action! The points made by Willoughby have been highlighted continuously through the years, yet no successful action has been noted. That is not to say there has been no efforts, just that any attempts to implement programmes have either been too few, too brief or ineffective.
In the final analysis, combating crime and violence in a society will never be a one-off problem. The issue is dynamic and changes with each generation, with changes in culture and technology, and societal norms. It is also interwoven with other issues like poverty and mental health. Therefore, as we look to stakeholders to improve society by fostering better values and morals through programmes in our churches and schools, and seek to improve parenting skills as well, it is incumbent on every individual in this country to also act as role models and take a direct role where possible to mould upstanding citizens of this country.