Let’s face facts, the youth-related problems plaguing the society does not have a one-size-fits-all solution. On every hand, blame is being passed along for the high levels of indiscipline and deviancy, teenage pregnancies, drug and alcohol use, high drop-out rate and poor academic performance. The old adage ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ was the proverbial baby that was thrown out with the bathwater. It is time to take the bull by the horns, man-up and grow a pair. Everyone is culpable.
It’s imperative that parents teach their children appropriate socialisation skills, make sure they are equipped with school supplies, support them with their schoolwork, attend PTA meetings and liaise with their children’s teachers.
Parents need to have regular discussions/conversations with their children to effectively address any issues that may be of concern to either their child or themselves and be part of the children’s lives and not leave it up to the teacher. A teacher’s job does not include being a parent to your child.
The hope is that once a culture of proper parenting permeates the society recalcitrant parents will follow set examples.
Parents the teachers are to provide disciplined prepared children with an academic education while reinforcing the positive values you have taught your children at home. Time spent on continually disciplining children is lost teaching-learning time that can never be recovered.
Teachers need to spend time getting to know their students, planning teaching-learning activities, keeping proper records of student performance and behavioural milestones. The administrative, teaching and ancillary staff at schools must demonstrate united front if disciplinary issues are to be eliminated. In addition, disciplinary measures are to be formulated and implemented to meet the needs of each school dependent on the issues identified. The disciplinary plan should be one that allows for parental involvement and support.
Educational Psychologist George Sugai developed one such plan- ‘School-wide Positive Behaviour Support Model’ (SWPBS). It is a proactive approach based on a three-tiered model of prevention and intervention aimed at creating safe and effective schools. Emphasis is placed on teaching and reinforcing important social skills and data-based problem-solving to address existing behaviour concerns.
Let’s not forget the role of the community in the child’s development. It’s an important role as children traverse not only their immediate community but several others depending on the location of their school. They see ‘life’ happening before their very eyes. Be assured they are ‘learning’ what they see. So exactly what type of examples are playing off on the community stage during these times? Are they appropriate ones or negative ones? Either way, they are impacting on the impressionable minds of Tobago’s youths.
When you see children displaying inappropriate behaviours do you turn a blind eye and remark, “That’s their parents’ problem, not mine”? In the long run, if left unchecked, their behaviour will become a problem to us all. Case in point is the rise in gun-related crimes on our lovely island and the spate of heinous attacks on tourists. Do you think these criminals were ‘born big’?
Where are the leader’s in the community? Today’s village needs positive leaders. Long ago, those leaders were usually clearly identifiable and known within their communities. Nowadays, things are murky and the apparent absence of such leaders has led to the abdication of the communal responsibility to raise children.
My mother always said where there is life, there is hope. So, come on parents, school administrators, teachers and community members of Tobago. Let’s make the home-school-community connection a reality and return our picturesque island home to the hospitable and safe paradise we once knew.
Dr N. Carrington is a successful parent, educator and sociologist