Jamaica Gleaner / Prime Minister Andrew Holness has condemned the savage beating of Jamaica’s children by some parents while expressing concern for the St Thomas mother captured in a video using a machete to punish her daughter.
“I’ve never been one to accept that it is their private domain and parents can do what they will with their children. So I want to establish that it does not represent the standard of Jamaican parenting,” said Holness at the opening of the expanded operating theatre at the St Ann’s Bay Regional Hospital last Friday.
“But I’m not here to condemn the mother, she needs help and support. We don’t excuse her behaviour, she has to answer to the law of the land, but we have to use her as an example as to how we can turn her around to become a spokesperson for good parenting.
“We must support her to bring her to the realisation that how she is parenting is not the only way. Let us use this as a watershed moment in our society, let us all agree that corporal punishment is not a good thing for our society, that there are other ways … of applying a rod than using a machete,” added Holness,
The prime minister expressed an understanding of the frustrations parents often go through when they have to deal with their children, especially those in their teen and adolescent years.
“I want to first of all say that I can understand the frustration that many Jamaican parents feel; as minister of education I was very close to it,” said Holness.
“I can understand the pressures that a single mother comes under when her child is entering puberty or entering adulthood, and the behaviour that they will display and the fears that parents have as to what their children may become, but let me make it absolutely clear that while I understand it, it is not acceptable,” added Holness.
NEGATIVE SIDES OF CORPORAL PUNISHMENT
According to Holness, while he was the minister of education he had to deal with the negative side of corporal punishment, which is not the only ingredient in poor parenting.
“We also have other parental practices which are just as reprehensible – parents who allow their children to be groomed, parents who know about and participate in incest, parents who keep quiet and allow these things to happen. As part of the development of the country (there) must be a confrontation of these negatives.”
The prime minister charged that some cultural practices are holding back Jamaica, and using violence to discipline children is teaching them that the only way to deal with stress and to make corrections, and to change is by this method.
He argued that beating children has wreaked significant psychological damage on many.
Holness urged parents who are in need of help in dealing with their children to reach out to someone who can assist or to contact the National Parenting Support Commission, which was established while he was minister of education.
The woman in the video, 44-year-old Doreen Dyer of Bath, St Thomas, has since been charged by the police.