Tell youth the truth and listen to them, GG tells adults

BY GARFIELD MYERS
Editor-at-Large, South/Central Bureau
myersg@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, March 02, 2018

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MALVERN, St Elizabeth — Governor general Sir Patrick Allen had plenty of advice for students when he came to the all-girls' Hampton School here on Tuesday.

But also, he brought counselling for parents, teachers and guardians during his visit, which formed part of a comprehensive programme of activities for Hampton's 160th anniversary celebrations.

Adults should listen to children and should also be prepared to trust them with the “truth”, Sir Patrick said.

The governor general, who was accompanied by Lady Allen, said his experience as a mentor for young people had taught him that young women, especially, were facing “gruesome realities” and needed empathetic treatment.

“Parents, and others who are charged with nurturing these young people, should never force on them our experiences. Instead, we should try to listen and understand what they are trying to say to us,” he said.

Sir Patrick said a solid, healthy home environment was a big help.

In situations where there was a “solid foundation” starting with the family, girls tended to be strong, confident and ambitious. However, in cases “where we have broken homes, we have girls who are not so confident, not so sure of themselves, and who are crying out through their actions for some form of support, or simply a listening ear”, Sir Patrick said. In the latter scenario, the school had a most important role to play, he said.

The governor general said parents, guardians and teachers should not be afraid to talk to young people about the evils around them.

“Never make the mistake of thinking they do not understand. It is time we trust our young people with truth, so they in turn are prepared for tomorrow. We must not hide the realities from them. Once upon a time things were hidden from youngsters [but] if you hide realities from them they will find it on the Internet. There is no hiding anymore,” he said.

“Sometimes the young people understand much more than us and much more than what they say. It's time we trust our young people with truth so that they in turn are prepared for tomorrow,” Sir Patrick reiterated to loud and prolonged applause from assembled students and adults.

At the same time, the governor general urged students never to “be afraid to talk to your parents, your teachers and your guardians”.

Students should use their education as a force for good and to lift themselves above the negatives afflicting the Jamaican society such as crime, violence and ignorance, he said.

Sir Patrick lamented that rapidly advancing technologies which were meant to benefit humanity were also serving as negative forces; and that “there was so much hatred” affecting human behaviour.

“This is the most exciting time to be alive; with all the inventions, modern technology, access to education; and yet it is the most dangerous time to be alive,” he said.

“How can we start a new trend? A trend where you have a responsibility for your own actions and each other's well-being, where your time is consumed by being positive and productive, where social media becomes the tool it was meant to be rather than the master we make it out to be?” he asked.

He identified his I Believe Initiative, launched in 2011, aimed at helping to “restore hope, belief and sound values in Jamaica's families, youth and educational programmes”, as a programme which could help young people become part of positive change.

“There is an urgent need, a clear imperative if you will, for young people who will be called upon to take on the reins of leadership in this country, to be motivated to believe in themselves and to take all the steps necessary to pursue and reach their goals so that they can give back to Jamaica,” he said.


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