Protecting our daughters
Ministers of the word say this year has been defined by many grim trends: a record breaking murder rate, a growing percentage of young men below the age of 30 joining the prison population and the apparent rise in brutality toward females. It is this latter issue that several ministers are most alarmed about, saying something major must be done to change the course of this nation.
In trying to save our sons, have we neglected our daughters? This is the question some of the pastors we spoke to posed. Their response is simply that there is a larger problem than just your daughters or sons being in danger; but instead the wellbeing of the entire community is at stake, they say.
Canon Basil Tynes, rector of St. Barnabas Anglican Church, says the violence and crime in the country today has more to do with a breakdown in the family structure and the neglect of teaching quality values to young women and young men.
“We have allowed our family life to come crashing down on us and as a result there are a whole host of things that have happened. Because of this our children do not know how to define meaningful relationships,” says the Anglican priest. “So part of our problem in the domestic sphere of life, especially the violence, is that people treat or see other persons as their personal property. And if I can’t have you then nobody else will.
“As a result of this kind of thinking, people will resort to all kinds of things. There are people who are stalking their exes, carrying out abnormal activities in order to pesterize the other person, harassing them, doing all they can to destroy them at church, work or home. Then you have people who feel that if you dare go out with someone else, I will physically attack you and I think in many cases we have allowed ourselves to slip into this idea that we own people.”
The priest says it is essential if the nation is to preserve its future, save its sons and protect its daughters, that lessons of love and honesty should be driven into the lives of the youth before it is too late. Many of the cases of domestic violence and crimes between couples are because people don’t know how to let go and move on with their lives in a healthy and constructive manner, the priest explains.
“In the same manner the trend of school girls going missing is not something we should be blaming on the girls solely,” adds Tynes.
“We cannot look at the little lambs and ignore the big grown sheep, being their parents and the men who are harboring these minors. The parents in many cases are setting bad examples for their children in the first place. They aren’t home often enough to see where their children are or what they are up to.
“Some parents even condone this behavior under the assumption they will get some monetary gain out [of] the relationship. Until we can set laws to properly discipline and punish parents so they can be more accountable for their children, charge the people who are harboring the minors illegally and of course punish the young people themselves, this growing problem will not cease.”
The minister says there should not be a double standard and all young people – girls and boys – should be accounted for by their parents because they are all important and can fall prey to any number of social ills without parental guidance.
Bishop Simeon Hall, senior pastor of New Covenant Baptist Church, says parents truly have to start playing their role in their children’s lives again if the recent trends of violence among youth, disappearing females, and even the murders of young women, are to stop.
“Something is wrong in our society when it comes to many of the young people we have in our communities. I don’t blame them but rather their parents who are allowing them far too much freedom to do what they want, when they want and with whom they want,” he says.
“These are teenagers and I do not feel we are monitoring them as well as we should. There is so much teenagers don’t know and therefore will try without adult supervision. We wonder why we have so many problems. Our children don’t know how to conduct themselves and treat one another. So much garbage is being thrown at them in the media and they need so much guidance so they know what is right from what is not. I think there is much we as adults can be doing to save our youth.”
The bishop says when it comes to women’s rights there is still so much the country needs to address that the members of Parliament are not doing adequately.
“We have faced some really terrible things this year and I wonder when is our society going to stand up for the children and women who are being brutalized? All crimes and murders are terrible but when you can kill a pregnant woman and her unborn child dies as well, you are doing something especially heinous.
“That is two murders in my books, but the leaders of the country barely touched the subject when it came up in their discussions. Only one minister said anything and after that it was treated as though nothing special had happened. Just another murder. Just another woman. It’s as though there is something against recognizing how terrible women and children are treated…”
There is much to be done to get this country in shape, according to Bishop Hall. It all starts with training parents to be parents, teaching children how to be children and getting the government to take a stand for what is right, especially when it comes to protecting women and children, he argues.