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Failed family structure brings national disgrace

Monday, November 06, 2017

Dear Editor,

For some time now people have been complaining that there exists too much indiscipline and lawlessness in Jamaica, and the nation is finally paying the price.

But, despite this acknowledgement, most of us are dodging the real issues. The crux of our problem is that too many of our people are from broken homes. Multiple studies have shown that children born in wedlock are more adjusted and less likely to become delinquents than their counterparts from single-parent-headed households. Regardless of the availability of such evidence too many of us continue to blame external factors, such as poverty and inequality, as the reasons for the manifestation of social ills. This could not be further from the truth.

The reality is that unmarried and ill-prepared individuals are having children and not teaching them proper values. For example all schools have rules in relation to grooming, and it is expected that parents will teach their children how to dress appropriately for school. Therefore, we should not be surprised when students are sent home for violating such rules. Schools are not fashion shows, and if students are so concerned about sending a fashion statement, then they should stay home. The argument is not that there is no correlation between one's attire and one's academic success, but that being disciplined is a necessary condition for one to be a good student. Parents who don't even have the time to teach their children how to dress properly are laying the foundation for more serious offence.

Let's look at another symptom of the indiscipline. It used to be the norm that a parent would prevent a child from joining a gang or bar one's daughter for sleeping with an older man. However, when so many of these parents are delinquents themselves, it ought to be no surprise that many of our boys are gangsters, and our girls will sleep with men old enough to be their grandfathers to get money or for contributions to their households. When a society sees no problem with the fact that a single mother is relying on a social welfare programme to raise six children, without a father, we are only preparing ourselves for disaster.

Poor family structures have facilitated the proliferation of antisocial behaviours across the country. Indiscipline is so pervasive in Jamaica that facilities with the ability to improve the profile of some countries have become liabilities in Jamaica. For example the Half-Way-Tree Transportation Centre should have been an accomplishment. Instead, it is a hotbed of criminality, as a result of uncontrollable students, and now has to be policed by the force or privately engaged personnel. Even the Half-Way-Tree area itself is so disgraceful one cannot even walk without being harassed by a vendor or someone asking about 'cash for gold'. Too often vendors are removed from streets and within a few days they reappear — laws are just not being consistently enforced. We cannot even enforce simple anti-litter laws, hence it is not surprising that the average Jamaican will see a bin and still drop garbage on the streets. It is even more disheartening that so many of our men will pee on walls on the side of the road in broad daylight.

The reality is that the lawlessness and indiscipline should be a national disgrace, and the country will not change for the better until we begin to respect the rule of law and stop the veneration of dysfunctional family units.

 

Lipton Matthews

lo_matthews@yahoo.com



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