Children must be allowed to be children

Dear Editor,
EDITOR, I know the issue has been discussed at length in various fora, but I ask you for some space in your newspaper to offer my views on the matter of the recent spate of fights and cases of bullying in schools.

For decades the public education system has had to deal with fights and bullying in the school system. As a Guyanese in the diaspora, I should say that these issues are not peculiar to Guyana. These are matters that education systems across the globe are forced to deal with on a daily basis. However, this must not be interpreted as me arguing that Guyana’s education system should be relaxed in its efforts to address these issues. The ministry is working and I am sure we can agree that more needs to be done.

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At the end of the day Editor, these are behavioural issues which are linked to the upbringing and socialisation of children within our society. We have children who are teasing and bullying their peers and we have students who don’t know how to deal with situations where they are provoked. The first place where the socialisation process begins is the home, Editor. However, we must be realistic and understand that children still learn some behavioural traits away from the home.

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This is why it is imperative that parents and guardians pay greater attention to their children. Parents might be teaching their children one thing; when these children are around their friends or other relatives however, they are taught something different and may end up embracing the wrong values and principles which are displayed through their deeds. Editor, I say all these things to make the point, that the display of violence in schools can only be stopped or significantly reduced if we change the quality of our upbringing of children, thereby improving the calibre of citizens that are produced.

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This would significantly reduce the strain placed on social services in this country and the judiciary, because if children embrace violent behavior, some of them may become menaces to society when they become adults. Children need to be taught that they must not bully others and why. They must be taught how to deal with instances when they are provoked to anger. They must know that the best thing to do is to walk away from violent situations and report same to the relevant persons– parents or teachers.

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Additionally, a point I wish to note is the quality of content and information to which we expose our children. For example, at a young age, some children are allowed to watch content on television that are violent and not rated for their ages. While among their friends at school they tend to want to perform the actions and stunts that they saw, which can cause injury to themselves and peers.

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Children must be allowed to be children and as they grow they are introduced to things which they can understand for their ages. This might seem as insignificant to some readers but it is a very important point. There are parents today who are mothering and fathering children and leaving the teaching of proper core principles, values, soft skills and behavioural practices to teachers and the society at large.

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Sometimes I sympathise with the work that teachers and education officials have to deal with, but Editor, I must say I am encouraged by recent developments. For example, the continuous development of the welfare system with the acquisition of psychosocial units. It will be a gargantuan task, but it can be much easier if all stakeholders, particularly parents and guardians, step up in the performance of their duties.

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Yours Sincerely,
Leon Persaud

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