Trinidad Judge: Hold parents responsible for their children’s criminal actions

Frank Seep­er­sad

(Trinidad Guardian) A High Court judge is call­ing for the en­act­ment of laws to hold par­ents and guardians re­spon­si­ble for their chil­dren’s crim­i­nal ac­tions.

De­liv­er­ing the ser­mon in his ca­pac­i­ty as a lay min­is­ter at the Mara­bel­la Pres­by­ter­ian Church yes­ter­day, Frank Seep­er­sad said some par­ents ben­e­fit from the spoil’s of their chil­dren crim­i­nal ac­tiv­i­ties while oth­ers turn a blind eye.

He al­so called for an over­haul of the failed ed­u­ca­tion­al sys­tem which, he says, does not in­cul­cate a sense of na­tion­al pride in youths.

Not­ing that the na­tion­al re­sponse to the re­cent dev­as­tat­ing floods has re­sult­ed in a flood of re­newed hope in our sense of hu­man­i­ty and broth­er­hood, he said, “This we-can-do-it at­ti­tude needs to be used tack­le the on­slaught of crim­i­nal­i­ty which con­fronts us.”

Point­ing out that the ma­jor­i­ty of the crime is com­mit­ted by youths, he said this is be­cause fam­i­ly life has de­te­ri­o­rat­ed. There is a lack of parental guid­ance and the ed­u­ca­tion­al sys­tem has failed.

“Par­ents for too long have hid­den be­hind the phrase ‘yuh does make a child but not dey mind’ to ex­plain their chil­dren’s tru­an­cy. Far too many moth­ers have sanc­tioned crim­i­nal con­duct as they col­lect gro­cery mon­ey from their un­em­ployed gang­ster sons who wear shoes cost­ing thou­sands on­ly to cry out ‘he was a good boy’ when he is shot or ar­rest­ed.”

De­clar­ing that par­ent­ing is a di­vine and moral oblig­a­tion, Seep­er­sad said, “We need to con­sid­er the en­act­ment of parental re­spon­si­bil­i­ty laws so as to im­pose sanc­tions up­on par­ents and guardians whose poor­ly in­struct­ed and su­per­vised chil­dren cre­ate hav­oc. The com­mon law should be used to treat par­ents as ac­com­plices when they har­bour guns in their homes which their sons use to com­mit a crime.”

Seep­er­sad said a range of al­ter­na­tive so­lu­tions, both ju­di­cial and com­mu­ni­ty-based, must be put in place to treat with sit­u­a­tions youths re­fused to lis­ten to their par­ents/guid­ance.

Ac­knowl­edg­ing that some par­ents face dif­fi­cult cir­cum­stances, he sug­gest­ed re­vert­ing to that time when it took a vil­lage to raise a child, be­ing more ac­com­mo­dat­ing in the work­place or as­sist­ing with books or cloth­ing or oth­er sim­ple acts of kind­ness and en­cour­age­ment.

“We need to re­vis­it our schol­ar­ship sys­tem and con­sid­er award­ing schol­ar­ships to pur­sue ar­eas of en­deav­our which can crit­i­cal­ly as­sist in our na­tion­al de­vel­op­ment needs. We have pro­duced cit­i­zens with cer­ti­fi­ca­tion who lack a sense of cit­i­zen­ship and com­mu­ni­ty. The ex­ist­ing sys­tem does not fos­ter a cul­ture of vol­un­teerism, na­tion­al iden­ti­ty or skills of in­ter­de­pen­dence.”

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