This island’s Minister of Family, Stephen Lashley, is of the view that some Barbadians need to take greater responsibility as parents if the challenges children face within our communities and schools are to be effectively addressed.

Mr. Lashley made the comments as he spoke to the Barbados Government Information Service about expectations for the New Year.

He called on parents to "recommit to their responsibilities within the home", arguing that many of the recurring problems such as deviance, involvement in anti-social behaviour, poor school performance, drug and alcohol abuse, irresponsible sexual behaviour and poor self-esteem could be traced to a lack of guidance within the home.

He encouraged parents to hold fast to applying some basic rules which are grounded in responsible parenting skills in the rearing of their children. "I know there is the tendency to relax rules and overlook certain emerging negative trends and habits exhibited by children. But, my caution is that we do our children more harm than good when we ignore as opposed to providing direction and firm but caring guidance," the Minister advised.

He promised that the Division of Family within his Ministry would continue to work with its partners to deliver its "extremely successful" community parenting programmes, but stressed that parenting needed to be taken more seriously within the homes.

Amidst the current economic challenges, he said that there was a need for Barbadians to remain ever vigilant to the wholesale importation of foreign values and practices which were not in keeping with what they were taught by their parents and grandparents.?? He noted that he recently approved a project, to be managed by the Commission for Pan African Affairs, which would seek to address self-esteem issues, while focusing the youth on projects designed to create employment and ultimately earn foreign exchange.

Mr. Lashley also warned against the current trend of regarding marijuana usage as "the in thing", insisting that drug abuse was at the heart of many matters reaching the criminal court. "We need to speak to these issues because the end result is extremely daunting," the Minister said.

He pointed out that Government has been more involved in structured community sports, notably road tennis and football, and he disclosed that "it has been having a positive impact on community life. I am convinced that community sports must continue to be a central part of our strategy and, therefore, the National Sports Council will increase its focus on community sports in the New Year.

"Community sports are a key strategy for improving family life and relations between households. What we have seen is that people come together to support their children who participate and there is more cohesion among families," he explained.

The Minister also called for more responsible driving, particularly within communities where children play and residents are constantly moving along the narrow roads to work and other activities. He stated that speeding in communities remained a serious threat to safety and suggested that a special community road traffic code might have to be instituted.

"I have observed reckless maneuverings by groups of noisy motorcyclists moving through densely populated communities," he disclosed, and called for a halt to this dangerous practice which was endangering lives.


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