Achievements related to national and regional development will not be sustainable and could be to no avail unless a proper environment is secured for the youth that allows them to develop as they ought to.

This observation was made today by Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, Reverend Joseph Atherley, as he addressed a two-day UNICEF End Cycle Forum at the Sherbourne Conference Centre.

According to him, high on the agenda for Barbados is the need to recreate the “positive and proper culture” of child rearing which once existed. “We are embracing and seemingly are bent on continuing to embrace some of the worst precepts with respect to child rearing of the present, much of which is foreign to our instinctive cultural impulse,” he said.

The Minister noted that the culture of child rearing must lay serious, known and accepted obligations on the state, must make demands on corporate and civil society, and must provide strict guidelines for how parents ought to conduct themselves in the rearing of children without infringement of their democratic rights.

Addressing the issue of Barbados’ vision for its children, Rev. Atherley said that it included the youth playing a significant role in the realisation of the national development goals over the next few decades; and recognition by the youth that Barbados produces citizens who not only survive, but succeed and excel.

Citing the examples of Sir Garfield Sobers, Ronald ‘Suki” King and Rihanna, the Minister stressed that the vision was not for Barbados to produce the exceptional person who could aspire to those heights, but rather, that it would become a rule of thumb that that was what Barbados was about.

In her remarks, UNICEF Special Envoy to the Caribbean, Karin Sham Poo, noted that during the period of the programme cycle (2003-2007), many results had been achieved for children across the region with the assistance of UNICEF.

These included better access to quality facilities and to improved early stimulation for children in early childhood centres across the eastern Caribbean and the drafting of four model Child Protection Bills. She pointed out, however, that there were still many more issues to be dealt with.

“Your development is still threatened because HIV remains a problem that still needs to be addressed, because as we know, knowledge about HIV has not translated into the necessary behaviour change. Your development gains can also be compromised if the necessary action is not taken to ensure that all children have access to an early good start by the provision of quality early childhood development services,” Ms. Sham Poo stated.

Over the next two days, participants of the review forum will benefit from discussion on issues such as Violence in Schools, Violence in Families and Communities, Gender-Based Violence, and Corporate Responsibility for Children.

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