High Court Judge Justice Frank Seepersad says the crisis facing children in T&T can be evidenced by the staggering workload seen in the newly-opened Children’s Division of the Supreme Court.
Delivering the sermon at the Marabella Presbyterian Church yesterday, Seepersad said a special prayer for students who will be writing the Secondary Entrance Assessment examinations on Thursday. He urged parents to continue to support their children and encourage healthy study habits.
“Our children are stressed by the volume of work that they have to review in addition to the pressure that we place upon them due to our heightened expectations of success,” Seepersad told the congregation.
“We have to remember that their performance is not about us. We need to encourage them to develop healthy study habits so they adopt a consistent approach to school work and we also need to be vigilant so as to identify the type of support they may require, whether it’s academic, emotional, physiological or psychological.”
Saying the examination also causes anxiety among parents, Seepersad said it was important for parents to remain courageous and strong for their children.
He also said too many pupils were becoming highly qualified but lacked a sense of citizenship.
Lauding Naparima Girls’ High School and Naparima College for producing a well-rounded, holistic educational experience for pupils, Seepersad said children still continue to be in crisis in T&T.
“Far too many young people are ill-equipped to deal with the challenges of an evolving world which requires innovative thought, boldness and a spirit of entrepreneurship,” he said.
Saying too many young men are involved in gang activity, Seepersad added, “The Children’s Authority is inundated with complaints and the newly-opened Children’s Division of the Supreme Court already has a staggering workload.”
He noted that “a lack of proper parenting and support, the failure to instil proper moral training during their formative years and the failure to adequately inculcate in them a sense of belonging and self-esteem may have contributed to the current crisis.”
As leaders and elders, Seepersad said people must treat each other with respect and tolerance.
“Our inability to focus upon issues and the constant engagement of positions grounded in ethnicity and division has to be replaced by positions of principle and a commitment to social correctness,” he said.
“There has to be a commitment to do that which is right and just. Our attitude and our reluctance to treat with each other as brothers and sisters and as children of God, has created an environment where our young people have either lost or they are fast losing respect for individuals and institutions.”
To prevent further crisis, Seepersad said there must be positive involvement with the youth.
“We must volunteer our time and talents and pursue programmes premised upon the development and empowerment of our children, as we encourage them to be patriotic, kind, charitable and by example, assist them in the development of a strong spirit of volunteerism.
Such programmes should also focus upon emotional wellness and should seek to instil positive characteristics such as good values, obedience, discipline and respect,” he added.
He also said the Defence Force and the T&T Police Service can develop more effective programmes within the cadets and Police Youth Clubs.
“In the last 10 years, tablets and phones have replaced family conversations around our tables or in our living rooms and too few spend quality time together, like playing games in our backyards.
We need to limit the negative influences in our children’s lives.
As parents and guardians, we need to take charge over our children and we need to pray for them,” Seepersad added.
Since the Children’s Court opened in February, children have appeared on a range of offences, including murder.
The Children’s Court is a subdivision of the new Family and Children Division of the High Court created to deal with all family and Children Court matters.
It also caters for children in need of supervision, child care and protection matters.
Reporter: Radhica De Silva