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Abused at Home, Violent in School


Are our children becoming more violent in schools because they are abused at home?

Several studies over the years have shown that early physical abuse can cause violent delinquency as a child grows older. A 2009 study published by the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health showed that individuals who had been physically abused in the first 5 years of life were at greater risk for being arrested as juveniles for violent, nonviolent, and status offenses. The study said that physically abused children were also more likely to exhibit a host of other problematic outcomes, including being less likely to graduate from high school and being more likely to be fired from their job, to get pregnant or to impregnate someone while not married, and to become a teen parent. Thus, early physical abuse led not only to later violent delinquency but also to a more global pattern of violent and nonviolent dysfunction.

This study is not the only one of its kind. In Trinidad I’m sure that the authorities know that abused children tend to become more violent given that the Minister of Health in 2019 was quoted as saying “In 2008, a study on school chil­dren ex­hibit­ing vi­o­lent be­hav­iour found that 40 per cent men­tioned sex­u­al abuse in the home and in 2002, a study done in To­ba­go on 676 young adults found that 13 per cent of those be­tween ten and 14 years had sex, and six per cent had sex with a fa­ther, a step­fa­ther, an un­cle, or old­er peo­ple.”

Given these studies and figures, can we as a country develop a model to deal with violence at schools?

Both the Minister of Education and the Commissioner of police said they are not giving up on the nation’s youth and rightfully so. No one should give up on the future of the country. We need to find a way to bring back discipline in our schools. With several research papers hinting at a problem, it may be wise for us to look deeper into what is shown. It is a fact that the number of students involved in violent or deviant behaviour at schools are in the minority.

When students show violent tendencies, they should be called in and spoken to, along with their parents and find out what may be causing this. The key now is not to leave it where it is. Get social workers involved and to monitor the child’s behaviour and see how it progresses. Also, it may be prudent to visit the homes of the children who are acting out to see if there may be some problem we can address. Of course this may not be as easy as it sounds, but it’s a suggestion I think is worthy of consideration. Or if it happens already, clearly it isn’t working well.

Yes, often times we criticize parents for not raising their child in the right way. Maybe they don’t have guidance or would have come from a home where violence was prevalent. Maybe now it is the time for us to give assistance to ensure the future of the country gets better. Have we considered public parenting classes for our young, and even older parents? As much as we may say it takes a community to raise a child”, this may be the closest thing to it we may ever see in this lifetime.  Now is the time to give parents the tools to teach their children right from wrong.

We need to find a solution to dealing with violent behaviour from our youth. Maybe this is a start.



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