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T&T has culture of abusing kids—activist
T&T has a culture of abuse towards children, says activist and board member of the Children’s Authority Gregory Sloane-Seale. He added: “It is not just physical, it is emotional and psychological and filled with neglect and disrespect of children.
“We do not have an appreciation for the different stages of psychological development of children.” He said society complained about crime and violence but did not realise that the violence occurred across the board, even when parents hit their children “two slap” for doing something they are viewed as wrong.
“It is where we are at as a society and where we have been for a while,” Sloane-Seale said, adding there were entities in the country doing their best to instill change. “People might say poverty is an aspect but it is across ethnic and socio-economic lines. I see neglect and verbal abuse in all settings.”
He said there were thousands of parents in T&T who were doing well and not abusing their kids and society needed to learn from their example. He added: “People need to be taught proper parenting skills and there are organisations out there who do just that, so all is not lost.
“When you turn on the radio and find negativity coming at you from talk-show hosts and other avenues, that negativity is going to affect not only you but also your children.” Director of Women Working for Social Progress Merle Hodge said the law made it okay for parents to punish children anyway they saw fit.
In an interview, Hodge said while the Children Act banned corporal punishment in schools, it allowed parents to discipline their children in any way they chose. “Why is it not okay for adults to hit each other but no one bats an eyelash when a child is hit?” asked Hodge.
She said society had agreed it was unacceptable for a man to hit a woman but didn’t see hitting a child as bad. “They see children as being in a different category of human beings and that is not the case,” said Hodge. “Should a man hit another man? Should big people hit each other? she asked.
“You don’t need to ever hit a child but people think that is the only way to administer discipline. It is a knowledge issue,” she added. Hodge said the resulting explosion of violence among young people should not be a surprise to anyone.
She said that was the reason why cases of child abuse and people burning their children were still occurring. Hodge added: “Burning children is a cultural thing in this country. It is something that had stopped being prevalent but we are seeing that it is happening again. The parent sees it as a suitable punishment for a child that steals.”
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