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'We need to reflect on how we are raising our boys'

BY ANTHONY LEWIS
Observer writer
editorial@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, April 26, 2019

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ROSE HALL, St James — The University of the West Indies (The UWI) senior lecturer and head of the Institute of Gender and Development Studies Dr Leith Dunn has cited the socialisation of boys as a contributing factor to violent behavioural challenges in schools.

“I think we have to go back to what I was talking about this morning (Monday) — how we socialise our children. How we socialise our boys, in particular, because we don't allow them to express themselves as children.

“So if a little boy gets hurt, he is told to not cry because he is not a girl. We also raise them in different ways so, I am speaking generally... We need to reflect on how we are raising our boys and our girls and what we are setting them up for. So, suppressing those emotions means that sometimes the boys are going to lash out,” the senior UWI lecturer argued.

Dr Dunn was speaking with reporters following the Jamaica Teachers' Association's 18th annual education conference at the Hilton Rose Hall Resort and Spa in St James, earlier this week.

Over the years, schools have had to contend with students' violent behavioural issues, particularly among boys.

On March 29, a security guard contracted to Alpha Security Company and stationed at Grange Hill High School in Westmoreland, was stabbed to death by two young men on the school's compound. One of the alleged attackers, who is a student, was later charged by the police in connection with the death of the guard, 44-year-old Clifton Lumley.

The Jamaica Observer was told that the student allegedly involved in the incident had been on suspension from school in connection with an unrelated matter.

In addition to behaviour changes, Dr Dunn said that boys are more likely to have special learning needs.

“Boys are more likely to have special learning needs and therefore we need to look at how we teach and ensure that if there is a gap, if there are special needs, we address them,” she stressed.

“It doesn't mean that you are stupid. It means that we need to look at how we can enable you and empower you to understand yourself, but also to learn a different way, and then you see them excelling. But the behaviour is what we tolerate, and that is the result, in part, of our socialisation in the family,“ she continued.

The UWI senior lecture also pointed to the importance of mentorship, working with parents, and also ensuring that boys and girls are not being set up for stereotypical roles and behaviour that are negative.

“So, when we look at our driving chaos, for example, and you see the breakdown of discipline in terms of even stoplight and so on, so we do a gender analysis of that and how can we use that knowledge to make interventions for driver training so that we can reduce the number of crashes. So, there are various areas in which we need to look at the anger, anger management, thinking through the consequences of our behaviour,” the senior lecturer said.


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