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Child parents

NPSC alarmed at prospective parenting age, encourages students to wait

BY ALPHEA SAUNDERS
Senior staff reporter
saundersa@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, November 09, 2018

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CHIEF executive officer of the National Parenting Support Commission (NPSC) Kaysia Kerr has expressed alarm that the prospective parenting age has moved from 11 to nine years old over the past year-and-a-half.

“We have conversations that we have to have, because a nine-year-old has no business getting into activities that could lead to parenting.

“Parenting is something that should be planned for, it is something you have to think about carefully, and it is something that you have to make sure that you wait until at least your career is intact, and at least your brain is fully developed – so you have a long way to go; you should wait,” Kerr told secondary school students who gathered at the St Andrew Parish Church hall in Kingston recently, for a youth forum hosted by the National Child Month Committee (NCMC).

She encouraged students to not only look at the physical attributes of a potential mate, but to consider traits such as character.

“There are many things to think about as you prepare, partner and plan,” she remarked.

Meanwhile, she said the NPSC continues to urge parents to move away from using corporal punishment as a means of disciplining their children.

Kerr made the call days after Prime Minister Andrew Holness reiterated the Government's stance on corporal punishment in schools, insisting that the ban must be observed by administrators.

Kerr told the students and other stakeholders that: “At the National Parenting Support Commission, we are saying no more beating; beating does not work. The fact of the matter is there is some dissonance between somebody who says, 'I love you but I want to hurt you physically'… Somebody who says, 'My job is to care and protect you but I beat you mercilessly'. You're also teaching me, inadvertently, that I must solve every single issue with violence; you're telling me that when something is wrong, I must go punch it out instead of talk it out.”

She pointed out that corporal punishment extends beyond beating a child, as other disciplinary methods inflict physical pain.

“Corporal punishment extends to if somebody tells you to go stand in a corner for prolonged hours until you feel pain, that is also corporal punishment, and we don't talk about that enough,” she stated.

Kerr said parents should explain to their children the necessity of rules, and the ramifications of not adhering to these rules, but that parents also need to give children room to express their individuality.

At the official handover ceremony for the Jamaica/China Goodwill Infant School I and II, in Olympic Gardens, St Andrew, last week, Prime Minister Holness said over the years, by allowing corporal punishment to continue in the education system, the society has entrenched and legitimised the use of unregulated force.

“We have been literally saying to our children, 'A slap is right', when that child leaves, then a kick is right, then a stab is right, then shooting is right,” he stated, dismissing the argument often made by some older individuals that childhood beatings have not impacted them negatively.

The Education Ministry has outlawed corporal punishment in the public education system, and there is an ongoing push to change the overall mindset among many parents that beatings are a natural part of discipline.

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