It can't be business as usual: Take a standThursday, July 22, 2021
Natalie Campbell- Rodriques
ONE of the easiest things to do is to not take personal responsibility for an action or series of actions. In Jamaica we need to wake up from this peril and cut ties with blaming only politicians and stress from COVID-19.
Stress caused from COVID-19 is real. A quick look on the website of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will show sections dedicated to the issue of stress stemming from the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic. Whether it be due to decreased earnings or the feelings of isolation and loneliness from social distancing, many lives have been affected and stress is often the end result. It is known that stress can cause sadness, anger, lack of energy, among other things. Politicians have a role, especially those of us in the Parliament, to ensure that laws are in place to eliminate or counter many social ills and implement laws to protect the wider society and those most vulnerable such as children. I mention all this to say that the ills and stress from the pandemic are real, and politicians do have a major role to play in ensuring that citizens feel safe on a daily basis.
Nonetheless, the happenings across the island over the last few days should never solely be laid at the feet of either the Government or the burdens caused by COVID-19. Whether it be the alleged beating of a four-year-old by his stepfather, the rape of a child in Hanover, or the accusations against leaders within the Church. As a people, we need to begin taking personal responsibility for the growth of heartlessness and wickedness plaguing the lives of some of our most vulnerable. It is too easy to direct our anger at someone else or something else; it is too easy to lie to try to protect those within our families and friendship groups.
Conflict resolution skills are severely lacking amongst all age groups, and the inclusion of this competence in our primary and high school curriculums must be considered if we are to short circuit the current problem. There is a generation of my peers that is almost lost when it comes to any skill associated with facilitating and encouraging dialogue without insult and contempt following discussion on a contentious issue. To save our nation we must begin to teach the necessary skill sets to upcoming generations instead of giving socialisation the chance to teach them poor skills.
In addition to conflict resolution skills, we must empower our women to be independent enough to select partners whose main attraction is not that of deep pockets. Men who abuse children must be isolated and rejected from homes across the island, but this will not happen until all Jamaican women feel they can say no and leave their partners at the first signs of unhealthy emotional coping skills. This will not only require greater financial independence, but also love and support from friends and family.
Thirdly, as a people we must not let the fear of fire and brimstone and eternal damnation cause us to turn to a blind eye. Because someone is a man of the cloth does not guarantee he will not molest your child. It can also be guaranteed that if you keep your child away from Sunday school or youth meeting because the church brother or pastor is molesting children, you will not be doing wrong. What is not right is putting a child at risk. What is not right is a child being abused and then efforts being made to hide the situation in order to protect the church leader.
We must begin to isolate and scorn those among us who hurt children. They must feel ostracised in much the same manner as Cersei Lannister of Game of Thrones must have felt during her naked walk of penance. The more we allow a normalisation of attacks on our children the harder it is to protect these young ones.
We each have a role to play. We each must assess how we are currently playing that role. A zero-tolerance approach is needed to break this stranglehold on our children. It cannot be business as usual. It's time to take responsibility.
Natalie Campbell-Rodriques is a senator and development consultant with a focus on political inclusion, governanace, gender, and Diaspora affairs. Send comments to Jamaica Observer or email@example.com.
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