Last week I read a newspaper report which said more than 10,000 of our children, equivalent to about five per cent of the primary and secondary school children population, are suffering from mental and emotional disorders with the potential for serious consequences and which can make them susceptible to some sort of mental instability. I find this number staggering and must be cause for great concern to hundreds of parents.
The professionals all have their various theories as to the causes of these various illnesses in children. A team of child psychologists and Ministry of Education officials lamented the persistent lack of data and a failure to put in place information-gathering mechanisms.
Child psychologist Dr Margaret Nakhid-Chatoor speaking of today’s situation was correct when she said that there were simply not enough resources and personnel to address the needs of children in school.
I am not trained in psychology and as such I do not have the scientific savvy they would have to make their assessments. But common sense tells me the children of today have to endure much more than children of three or four generations ago. The real culprit today is STRESS.
And, we don’t have to look very far for the reasons why. The increasing incidence of poverty; the high divorce rate; the increasing number of single moms; our criminal environment, are some of the causes. But that’s not all.
Because of society, parents push their children so hard that they do not have time to enjoy their childhood. Then there is also the problem of interminable traffic gridlock where children along the Corridor are awakened from as early as 4 a.m. to get to school.
I firmly believe that our children today are growing up without being allowed their space and the many hand-held devices aren’t helping any. Rewind to a few generations back. The children with possible mental problems were few and far between and did not make up five per cent of the school population as the psychologists say. That is because there was very little bullying, much less peer pressure and the flashing of wealth.
I remember when my eldest son started at Tunapuna Secondary, one of his earliest experiences was a pupil displaying a $100 bill while he and his sister sported their lunch kits and this he found exasperating. That was almost 40 years ago.
If we look at things like poor parenting; children left alone at home because their mothers are working; fathers who owe $30,000 and more in maintenance payments while the good children have lost their playtime because of travel requirements among other things.
Parents must ensure that children be themselves. Don’t make them machines and don’t allow them the opportunity to go astray. It is a common-sense approach to rearing children.