Inappropriate influences from older persons outside the community was among the many concerns raised by family members during a recent West Bay meeting of the National Parenting Programme
This Child Protection and Safety community meeting was held specifically for residents of government’s National Housing Development Trust site in Birch Tree Hill, said a GIS press release.
Leading the presentations were West Bay’s Department of Children and Family Services’ Social Work Supervisor Paulinda Mendoza-Young, Senior Social Worker Nicole Carter, Social Work Assistant Angelique Smith, and NPP Coordinator Selena Dyke.
There were many positive reports from participants, and indicators of healthy family structures. This was especially reflected in the numbers participating (some 50 teens, adults and children). Residents were commended for the fact that they have brought the 40 homes in the area into a generally positive communal residence, comparable to the local communities of decades past. They were also encouraged to stay united in the best interest of their children and families.
One of the district’s five Royal Cayman Islands Police Community Development Officers, Constable Devon Bailey, encouraged residents to report any suspicions or criminal activity, especially in relation to issues which endanger children, teens and the family structure. He also handed out crime-prevention materials.
‘Adolescence is a critical stage, and if they don’t get it right it can follow them through the rest of their lives,’ said Constable Bailey, adding: ‘…parents have to be very vigilant, for it’s important to help young people determine what they do with their lives, and prepare them to make proper choices.’
NPP members Fadey Powery and Lennon Christian also attended the discussions.
The teenage participants were especially vocal about their concerns, which included early exposure to sex, the use of legal and illegal drugs in some homes, paedophiles and teens being stalked by older people. Of special concern was the inappropriate usage of phones, internet and other communication tools to target or abuse children.
The officials encouraged families to have open, age-appropriate discussions in their homes, especially in relation to sensitive areas such as sexual awareness.
As part of the NPP’s ongoing education and child-abuse prevention initiative, Ms Dyke took the opportunity to engage children in activities aimed at increasing their self-awareness, and enhancing their knowledge of the dangers of abuse.
After sharing refreshments and informal talks, the social workers were invited by the area’s teenagers to return, especially to address issue which relate to them. Further meetings may also cater to men, especially fathers, of the area.
For more information on NPP activities, including similar meetings in other communities, contact the DCFS at 949-0290.