Sunday 25 August, 2019

'Mentorship of young boys needed to break the cycle of poverty'

Loop stock photo of  J Wray and Nephew Foundation (JWNF)  ‘Spotlight Session’: Focus on Boys conference at the Courtleigh Auditorium held in May.

Loop stock photo of J Wray and Nephew Foundation (JWNF) ‘Spotlight Session’: Focus on Boys conference at the Courtleigh Auditorium held in May.

Some inner-city communities plagued by violence are recommending the mentoring of young boys, especially those who have no fathers in their lives, by male elders in their communities as one way of breaking the generational cycle of violence.

The communities made the recommendation during focus group discussions that informed a 2017 Violence Prevention Alliance (VPA) Study on Women and Children’s Safety and Security in 13 volatile communities across four parishes with the highest crime rate.

Jennifer Jones, a sociologist at VPA, presented the findings of the study at the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (ISPCAN) Caribbean Regional Conference, which was held recently in Jamaica.

“The residents in these communities have recommended that male and female elders should spend time talking one-on-one with difficult children who the community and parents think will never amount to anything, but who are really acting out because of their problems,” she informed.

Pointing out that it takes a “village to raise a child”, the residents in the communities said that the mentorship should be accompanied by parenting education workshops. These workshops would include sessions tailored for teenagers and the community so that everyone is educated and plays a part in raising the children,

The residents in the communities also recommended that the requisite state agency provided a social worker/counsellor to work once or twice a week, depending on the size of the community, and also establish a monitoring system to enable an assessment of outcomes after six months and 12 months.

Supporting the recommendations, Jones said the social worker could serve two to three communities targeting stressed parents in addition to supporting adolescent mothers/fathers and providing advice on alternative methods of discipline.

“The social workers would help to coordinate parenting sessions; identify children not attending school, including any disabled children; coordinate with principals and guidance counsellors in schools; and help to strengthen school/family interface,” she said adding that, the social workers would also guide school drop-outs and school leavers to HEART and other educational and social possibilities.

The Study was carried out over a four-month period by the VPA for the Citizens Security and Justice Programme (CSJP). The CSJP is an agency of the Ministry of National Security with international funding from the Inter-American Development Bank and Department for International Development.

The objective of the Study was to get the views of residents on the meaning of violence, its prevalence in their communities, and their recommendations.

It engaged 282 persons in 39 focus groups, three in each community. Recorded discussions were held in each community with young women 18-34 years old; young men 18-34 years old; a mixed gender group of 35 years and up, totalling 152 women and 131 men.

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