Judge sad about signals being sent T&T children in crisis

Monday, April 1, 2019 - 10:45

High Court Judge Jus­tice Frank Seep­er­sad says the cri­sis fac­ing chil­dren in T&T can be ev­i­denced by the stag­ger­ing work­load seen in the new­ly-opened Chil­dren’s Di­vi­sion of the Supreme Court.

De­liv­er­ing the ser­mon at the Mara­bel­la Pres­by­ter­ian Church yes­ter­day, Seep­er­sad said a spe­cial prayer for stu­dents who will be writ­ing the Sec­ondary En­trance As­sess­ment ex­am­i­na­tions on Thurs­day. He urged par­ents to con­tin­ue to sup­port their chil­dren and en­cour­age healthy study habits.

“Our chil­dren are stressed by the vol­ume of work that they have to re­view in ad­di­tion to the pres­sure that we place up­on them due to our height­ened ex­pec­ta­tions of suc­cess,” Seep­er­sad told the con­gre­ga­tion.

“We have to re­mem­ber that their per­for­mance is not about us. We need to en­cour­age them to de­vel­op healthy study habits so they adopt a con­sis­tent ap­proach to school work and we al­so need to be vig­i­lant so as to iden­ti­fy the type of sup­port they may re­quire, whether it’s aca­d­e­m­ic, emo­tion­al, phys­i­o­log­i­cal or psy­cho­log­i­cal.”

Say­ing the ex­am­i­na­tion al­so caus­es anx­i­ety among par­ents, Seep­er­sad said it was im­por­tant for par­ents to re­main coura­geous and strong for their chil­dren.

He al­so said too many pupils were be­com­ing high­ly qual­i­fied but lacked a sense of cit­i­zen­ship.

Laud­ing Na­pari­ma Girls’ High School and Na­pari­ma Col­lege for pro­duc­ing a well-round­ed, holis­tic ed­u­ca­tion­al ex­pe­ri­ence for pupils, Seep­er­sad said chil­dren still con­tin­ue to be in cri­sis in T&T.

“Far too many young peo­ple are ill-equipped to deal with the chal­lenges of an evolv­ing world which re­quires in­no­v­a­tive thought, bold­ness and a spir­it of en­tre­pre­neur­ship,” he said.

Say­ing too many young men are in­volved in gang ac­tiv­i­ty, Seep­er­sad added, “The Chil­dren’s Au­thor­i­ty is in­un­dat­ed with com­plaints and the new­ly-opened Chil­dren’s Di­vi­sion of the Supreme Court al­ready has a stag­ger­ing work­load.”

He not­ed that “a lack of prop­er par­ent­ing and sup­port, the fail­ure to in­stil prop­er moral train­ing dur­ing their for­ma­tive years and the fail­ure to ad­e­quate­ly in­cul­cate in them a sense of be­long­ing and self-es­teem may have con­tributed to the cur­rent cri­sis.”

As lead­ers and el­ders, Seep­er­sad said peo­ple must treat each oth­er with re­spect and tol­er­ance.

“Our in­abil­i­ty to fo­cus up­on is­sues and the con­stant en­gage­ment of po­si­tions ground­ed in eth­nic­i­ty and di­vi­sion has to be re­placed by po­si­tions of prin­ci­ple and a com­mit­ment to so­cial cor­rect­ness,” he said.

“There has to be a com­mit­ment to do that which is right and just. Our at­ti­tude and our re­luc­tance to treat with each oth­er as broth­ers and sis­ters and as chil­dren of God, has cre­at­ed an en­vi­ron­ment where our young peo­ple have ei­ther lost or they are fast los­ing re­spect for in­di­vid­u­als and in­sti­tu­tions.”

To pre­vent fur­ther cri­sis, Seep­er­sad said there must be pos­i­tive in­volve­ment with the youth.

“We must vol­un­teer our time and tal­ents and pur­sue pro­grammes premised up­on the de­vel­op­ment and em­pow­er­ment of our chil­dren, as we en­cour­age them to be pa­tri­ot­ic, kind, char­i­ta­ble and by ex­am­ple, as­sist them in the de­vel­op­ment of a strong spir­it of vol­un­teerism.

Such pro­grammes should al­so fo­cus up­on emo­tion­al well­ness and should seek to in­stil pos­i­tive char­ac­ter­is­tics such as good val­ues, obe­di­ence, dis­ci­pline and re­spect,” he added.

He al­so said the De­fence Force and the T&T Po­lice Ser­vice can de­vel­op more ef­fec­tive pro­grammes with­in the cadets and Po­lice Youth Clubs.

“In the last 10 years, tablets and phones have re­placed fam­i­ly con­ver­sa­tions around our ta­bles or in our liv­ing rooms and too few spend qual­i­ty time to­geth­er, like play­ing games in our back­yards.

We need to lim­it the neg­a­tive in­flu­ences in our chil­dren’s lives.

As par­ents and guardians, we need to take charge over our chil­dren and we need to pray for them,” Seep­er­sad added.

Since the Chil­dren’s Court opened in Feb­ru­ary, chil­dren have ap­peared on a range of of­fences, in­clud­ing mur­der.

The Chil­dren’s Court is a sub­di­vi­sion of the new Fam­i­ly and Chil­dren Di­vi­sion of the High Court cre­at­ed to deal with all fam­i­ly and Chil­dren Court mat­ters.

It al­so caters for chil­dren in need of su­per­vi­sion, child care and pro­tec­tion mat­ters.

Reporter: Radhica De Silva