POLL: Hold parents accountable, but help them too!
President of the Barbados National Council of Parent Teacher Associations (BNCP), Shone Gibbs.
Our nation's children are shaped by their homes and efforts to curve violence among students must start there.
This is the opinion of Shone Gibbs, President of the Barbados National Council of Parent Teacher Associations (BNCP).
As Barbadians continue to debate how best to address the issue of violence among students and increasing calls are made to punish "bad parents" who have not guided their children to the right path, Gibbs believes efforts must be made to deal with the issue where it all begins - the homes which form our communities.
HIs views also come as a video of a mother kicking a baby has sparked further discussion across the nation, with some persons saying that the mother is laying the foundation for the child to be aggressive and violent in school.
Lamenting that, "we have found ourselves at this point in our history, faced with escalating violence among our youth because we have let go of a lot of our core values," Gibbs noted that this situation can be greatly reversed, since this is the action of " a growing minority and because it’s not yet a majority, there is room to recover:
"Therefore, action and intervention must begin now and not be delayed. We must move to get to the root of their problems, which more often than not, stems from the home and with their parents, and start there. Parents must be involved at all costs."
And how should this be done? Gibbs believes reaching out to communities should be a standard approach to help build a healthy foundation for the nation's youth:
"Outreach should always be ongoing. If parents can't go to the mountain, we must find a way to take the mountain to the parents. They lay the cornerstones and are the chief bricklayers in the lives of their children.
"This is a very important task. Whether a child stands or crumbles is in their hands. There is a need to help them lay a good foundation. The survival of our society and its future depends on it. "
He also wants to see a system put in place where those parents who do not attend meetings because of concerns over their jobs, can be given special privileges:
"It means legislating that employers must not penalize these persons if they are legitimately called to meetings at schools.
"Perhaps they could be are given a slip to take back to work to show that they attended a meeting at their child's school. It is certain, that if parents don't get on board, we will continue to have problems with the nation’s youth."
He further asserted that "schools need to stop holding parents at arm’s length and start holding hands with them:
"Teachers should engage the parents and families of their students so they can understand their diverse backgrounds - see where they are coming from. I would even advocate making house calls under the correct protocol.
"People don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care. You gain the respect and cooperation of children and their families by making a genuine effort to help them grow and develop."
Despite this emphasis on building healthy family relations to help uplift the nation's youth, Gibbs stressed that parents "must know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are and will be held responsible for the children they bring into this world:
"The state is responsible for the most vulnerable in our society including the nation’s children. Comprehensive child protection legislation must underpin the juvenile justice legislation, in an attempt to stamp out the rampant abuse of our children in all forms."
The BNCP president further maintained that urgent counsel which may involve the parents of students whose actions lead to them being suspended is needed to access and address the situation, while protecting the child:
"Suspension should result in an immediate parent/family conference and mandatory counseling for the student and the parent if deemed necessary.
"We are not helping our children when we send them back into toxic home environments. A social worker should be assigned to that family until that issue has been worked through thoroughly, with a high level of accountability."