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Think of the children

Published:Thursday | March 1, 2018 | 12:00 AMTamara Bailey/Gleaner Writer
Novelette Grant

Mandeville, Manchester:

Our purpose here on Earth is not just to look out for our own welfare, but that of others as well. Among those we make a priority are our young people.

But according to retired deputy commissioner of police, Novelette Grant we have been failing our youth, and they have been acknowledging it.

"I feel disappointed and let down with how our children have seen us as adults [in the past]. These kids did not believe that anybody would show them kindness. How can we have children between the ages of 9-18 all of the view that nobody cares? Fast-forward into 2018 and their views do not change in terms of our ability to show kindness."

Grant was speaking at a Rotary Club meeting recently on an initiative of the Jamaica Constabulary Force that is very near and dear to her heart: Acts of Random Kindness (ARK).

"The game changer that we are looking for in our society may not lie in the direction we keep looking. I have observed that some of our youth are faced with serious emotional problems. We are all aware of violence, especially among youth. This is one of our most pressing social problems in Jamaica today."

Abused, neglected youth, Grant said, use violence to solve problems.

"Low self-esteem, mistrust, hunger, overcrowded habitats, antisocial cultural norms and values, negative role models that are celebrated, these are some of the challenges I have found in my 37 years working with this organisation," said Grant.

She continued: "When you meet a child who says they have not eaten for the past three days, how is that child going to learn? They tell you they don't want to ask people for things because they know they won't give it to them and they will be chased away.

"They talk about the abuse received from parents, and it is shocking. I remember trying to communicate with a young man, 15 years old, and the venom with which he referred to 'the woman' and the woman in question was his mother. We also met youngsters who spoke about their fathers with equal venom and hatred because they are either very physically and verbally abusive or they are absentee fathers," she added.

Grant posited that as custodians of the children given to us, we should not be happy with just the welfare of our immediate children, but consider all as our own.