Minister of Education, Hon. Andrew Holness, has called on parents to rely less on violent and aggressive methods of discipline in executing their parental duties.
“We still retain a cultural view that the use of aggression and violence is the most efficient way of ‘bending the tree while it is young’, and I think we need to relieve ourselves of that cultural view,” the Minister said.
He was addressing participants at the mid-term review of Jamaica’s National Strategic Plan (NSP) for Early Childhood Development, at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston Wednesday (May 19).
Minister of Education, Hon. Andrew Holness, (left) speaking with, from second left, Chairman of the Early Childhood Commission (ECC), Professor Maureen Samms-Vaughn and United Nations Children’s Fund’s (UNICEF’s) Country Representative, Robert Fuderich, during the mid term review of Jamaica’s National Strategic Plan (NSP) for Early Childhood Development at the Knutsford Court Hotel, New Kingston on Wednesday (May 19).
He said that it is an accepted scientific fact that violence and aggression in adolescents and adults can be traced directly to the early development of children, in terms of their exposure in the general community and family, and as it relates to how their parents parented them.
Mr. Holness called for a revolution in cultural thinking in how children are parented in Jamaica.
“If we are serious about reducing violence and aggression in the society…then we must become serious about parenting,” he said.
Mr. Holness also noted that, though the issue of parenting is often an “uncomfortable subject for persons to deal with” and an issue that Government’s always need to handle cautiously, the state still has to deal with the concept of parental failure, which leads to a social cost that is borne by citizens.
The Minister said that whenever there is a social cost because of a failure of a private function, the state has a role to intervene to correct that, adding that the state can try to re-balance, by seeking to ensure that the social cost of parental failure is borne by parents who fail.
“Because, if parents can fail in their parental function, and they don’t bear the cost, then they will continue to fail and other parents will continue to fail, as well. The social cost is then borne by the society and we can see the social costs in our crime, violence, the money we spend on security (and) the quality of the lifestyle we live,” he explained.
He said that the Government can seek to correct parental failure, either through education, which is currently being done through institutions; setting up the National Parenting Commission; developing the National Strategic Plan; supporting the Early Childhood Commission (ECC); or by enforcing and developing new legislation.
Mr. Holness suggested that government will have to move in the direction of enforcing and developing new legislation very rapidly.
“Some of the parental failures that exist require that the Government take the approach of enforcing and developing new legislation, but the Government must also continue on the path of supporting the early childhood sector, working with parents, and particularly, developing the parental plan within the National Strategic Plan,” he said.
“We have to move very quickly to establish the National Parenting Support Commission, which will co-ordinate all the efforts towards helping the development of proper parenting in Jamaica,” he added.
The NSP, which is being developed by the ECC, is a five-year plan taking into consideration all areas of early childhood development, including international and local development partners and Government ministries and agencies.
The objectives of the mid-term review are: to share the successes and outputs of the preparatory years and the first two years of implementation with partners and the public; to identify strengths and challenges experienced in implementation over the past two years; to review implementation targets for the next three years and make recommendations as necessary.