Friday, April 19, 2024

AWRIGHT DEN!: Hand of the young


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I asked myself one day while driving if parents are aware of the things happening in our secondary schools.  
I wondered if they knew they were drug users, drug dealers, homosexuals, lesbians, witches, gangsters, thieves, alcoholics, prostitutes and gamblers in schools. I wondered if they knew some children brought to school knives and scissors to harm others and some brought them to defend themselves.
I wondered if they knew that they were girls in school who gave away their bodies for a slice of pizza and sometimes for $1.50. I wondered if they knew that there were senior girls who sexually harassed juniors. I wondered if they knew that boys met in bathrooms to fondle each other.
I wondered if they knew that some teachers have sexual relationships with schoolchildren, both male and female. I wondered if they knew there were children with undiagnosed and untreated mental health problems attending school. I wondered if they knew that their children might be one of the abovementioned or a hapless victim.
Our children need help, guidance, support and encouragement. I can only imagine the challenges and pressures guidance counsellors face every day. I know parents would say that the teacher can assist, but I must let them know that because a person is employed as a teacher doesn’t mean they have a love for teaching or a love for young people.
It is not my desire to paint a negative picture of our schools, but it is important that parents understand what their children may be experiencing.
The role of the guidance counsellor is more critical today than it was in the past. The guidance counsellor serves most times as a mentor, counsellor, advisor, priest, doctor, psychologist, friend and even parent.
Every public secondary school in Barbados has at least one guidance counsellor, with the exception of two schools that have two each. It was interesting to learn that there are only three male guidance counsellors attached throughout the entire secondary school system.
It may be a challenge to find additional guidance counsellors to attach to each secondary school, so I am offering an idea to the powers that be to consider.
There are many full-time students who are pursuing undergraduate studies in social work and sociology who, I believe, can be of great assistance to guidance counsellors. I believe within the degree programme there can be an internship incorporated into the course where full-time students can be attached to the Government schools to assist guidance counsellors in their work. This would have advantages for the secondary school, the university, the guidance counsellor, the university and secondary school students, as well as parents and guardians.
The secondary schools would benefit from extra personnel, who would aid them in reaching some of their children who urgently need help.
• The university would benefit from being able to advertise that it provides a programme that is both academic and practical and provides a framework for on-the-job training and experience, even before obtaining the degree.
• The guidance counsellor would benefit from being able to mentor and train those whom they would be responsible for, creating a culture of sustainability and being able to pass on a wealth of experience and knowledge to the next generation.
• The secondary school students would benefit from the youthfulness of the university students to whom they can readily relate, as well as from the option of having male and female interns.
• The university students would benefit from hands-on training and work experience, and would gain significant knowledge and information, which could be used and incorporated within any dissertations they may have to do.
• Parents will benefit from knowing that there are people in a position to give good advice to their children and who are there to assist them in their personal development.
I do agree that there are many logistical, administrative and legal matters that need to be addressed before the abovementioned could be implemented. However, I believe it is something we should look into.
Our children need help and they need it urgently. One guidance counsellor to a school is not enough. Imagine, it is extremely challenging for two parents to raise one child and we expect one guidance counsellor to effectively cater to the needs of 500 to 1 200 students.  Let us not forget that children are the heartbeat of the world, the pulse of their nations, and hold the future of the world in their minds.
Corey Worrell is a former Commonwealth Youth Ambassador. 


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