How do we not create more broken families?

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

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Dear Editor,

We always seem to find a way to not have the difficult discussions in this country, so we never seem to fix things.The current hot topic surrounds X Factor UK 2018 winner, Jamaican-born Dalton Harris's revelation of the abuse he suffered growing up, some of which his, quite animatedly, confirmed to be true in our local media.

And the following conversations have surrounded the rightness or wrongness of his washing his dirty linen in public and hanging his mother out to dry.

I too have my own views on that. I believe Dalton's story is his to tell. He lived it. We weren't there beside him feeling his beatings or his pain.

I also believe how he copes with this and however he chooses to heal, be it through reconciliation or not, that's his decision. It's his life to live.

But you know one of the things that struck me each week watching X Factor, and Dalton in particular, is how he reacted to the judges comments. Every week after they told him how good he was, he fell to the ground. He just couldn't believe it. We, the viewers, agreed. He really is a phenomenal talent who is poised to do great things. Yet, he never saw that in himself. I don't know if even now he sees it. And when you hear how he was raised, both from his mouth and his mother's, you can understand why. When adults fail to speak life into a child the child will grow up to become a maladjusted adult.

Now, just think how many maladjusted adults we have in this country. Those who aren't as talented as Dalton, or get an opportunity to escape, become our gangsters, our “shottas”. Or they raise the future gunmen.

By the way, this has been said before. Noted criminologist Dr Herbert Gayle said that abuse from mothers ended up creating gunmen and had a direct role to play in our crime figures. Many a women's rights organisations came out and attacked him, dubbing him a misogynist.

Was he?

And it's easy for us to condemn Dalton's mother. Lord knows she's earned every bit of it. I too heaped coals of shame on her. But what resources exist for parents who are struggling and who don't even know that what they're doing, what they've done is wrong?

So, while we continue to debate what Dalton should do with his mother, how are we going to finally break the cycle so we don't create more families who lived as Dalton and his mother? And how do we get these parents access to the resources that do exist? Isn't that the discussion we ought to be having? And isn't it time we stop talking about it and try to fix it?

Yolande Gyles Levy

Constant Spring

St Andrew

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