Social management, part of the tough task ahead

Monday, April 16, 2018

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Reporter Miss Falon Folkes had contrasting articles about young people in yesterday's Sunday Observer, with lessons and insights for everyone.

There is the story of Miss Ahesha Myers who at 25 has experienced a lifetime of abuse, travail and struggle.

Miss Myers tells a sad yet familiar tale of extreme poverty and of being verbally abused, and having to watch the physical abuse of her mother by her troubled father.

She tells us that in her quest for the “manly love” she did not get from her father, she ended up pregnant at 14.

Perhaps most people, having had such experiences, fall by the wayside. Mentally strong and reinforced by her belief in God, Miss Myers kept swimming against the tide. Today she is tutoring and guiding young people even as she struggles to find the money to complete a degree in early childhood education.

Then there is the story of five sixth form students at Jamaica College (JC) who have used the lessons learnt in business and economics courses to start an online enterprise selling digital accessories.

Working as a collective, the teenagers are seeing growth in their business and have big plans for expansion, post-school.

No doubt hiccups and hurdles await, but by utilising creativity and hard work the young men from JC are cutting a path for themselves and setting an outstanding example for other young people.

A major challenge for the Jamaican society is to have far more instances such as that involving the young student businessmen and far fewer of the experiences such as Miss Myers has endured.

For perhaps the saddest aspect to Miss Myers' story is that it is commonplace. The widespread, everyday, anecdotal evidence of children with little or nothing to eat, and of being abused in all sorts of ways is overwhelming.

Obviously, extreme impoverishment and abuse trigger bitterness and hopelessness such as were the lot of the teenaged Miss Myers. To her eternal credit she was able to overcome to such an extent that she seeks now not just to advance herself but to help others.

In such situations, young women often get pregnant and get lost. All too often, young men get hold of guns and become detestable parasites.

So, there is the societal agonising about what's to happen when limited states of emergency and zones of special operations are lifted in specific communities. Equally, what's to happen in numerous sections of the country where crime remains rampant, but there are no enhanced security measures.

It seems to this newspaper that there should be thought given to social management so that years from now there is a preponderance of stories such as that of the young men at JC and, conversely, far fewer stories of children so deprived and abused that to become stable, contributing citizens requires a near-impossible swim against the tide.

Social programmes which will ensure that children — no matter where they live or who their parents are — have enough to eat, go to school, and are protected from abuse, are critically important if the society is to someday evolve into the healthy, peaceful, low-crime environment Jamaicans so desire.

Without that, enhanced security measures are no more than Band-Aids on festering sores.

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