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Youth problem influenced by adult behaviour

By COREY CONNELLY Sunday, April 6 2014

Much of the problems affecting young people in the country could be avoided if adults pay greater attention to the example they set for their children, behaviour change consultant Franklyn Dolly contends.

In a Sunday Newsday interview on Thursday, Dolly took many adults to task for failing to “lead by example.”

“We complain a lot about the young people, but look at the homes many of them come from. If there is violence and criminal behaviour, homes in which people have commited murder or robbery, what can we expect?” he asked. “And this is a daily way of living for many children. Young boys just don’t become part of a gang. They have to learn it from somewhere.”

“It is case of children learning what they have lived and they are mirroring what they see in the society,” he said, adding that the indiscipline involving young people was also exhibited on the nation’s roadways.

Within the past few weeks, there have been several instances of youth violence, some of which have ended up in the magistrates’ court.

Referring to random surveys commissioned by the St Augustine Campus of the University of the West Indies, within the past two decades, Dolly noted that there have been a marked increase in the percentage of teenagers who have experimented with marijuana.

“Between 1994 and 2010, the percentage of 12 to 18-year-olds who have smoked marijuana have doubled. In 1994, it was 30 percent and in 2010, when the survey was done it was 60 percent,” he said. “And, many people don’t see that as a problem, but marijuana is a mind-altering drug.”

Dolly argued that in many aspects of national life, adults were not setting proper examples. Referring to a recent school protest, he asked, “What message are we really sending when we have children with placards actually involved in the protest?”

The abuse of alcohol by adults at all-inclusive fetes and other social activities also came in for some strong criticism.

Dolly urged adults to take greater responsibility for their actions by attempting to reduce immoral behaviour by ten percent each year, over the next decade.

“If they are people who have a history of not lining up orderly for service, they should try to do so,” he said.

“People should not get vexed when they park their cars in no-parking zones and they get wrecked. Look at the way they behave when the car is wrecked. They cuss out the driver of the wrecker.”

Dolly said the exercise will not churn out overnight successes, but will be “a work in progress.”

In the interim, he said, the few adults who are doing the right thing should continue to do so.

“We have to praise and encourage them,” he said.

Adults, he said, must also not be afraid to intervene in resolving disputes among young people.

“Look at the police officer who tried to stop the fight between schoolgirls in Mucurapo some weeks ago. People must intervene, but should try to remain safe,” he said.

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