Even as the newspaper headlines scream “2,500 teens pregnant” I try to take a rational approach and ask whether one of these mushrooming agencies/commissions can investigate this new problem and implement solutions in the short and the long term.
Such a body can focus on factors that are likely to have an impact such as the ethnicities of those involved, their social strata, the schools they attend, the communities and geographic location from which they come, inter alia.
Ethnicity should tell a story and depending on where the numbers point, very specific and intensive state-sponsored attention should be paid to cultivating values and redirecting the thinking of the young. This should be the responsibility of parents, community elders, youth leaders and especially those “icons” who are at the forefront of championing ethno-cultural ideals, but mainly on Emancipation or Indian Arrival Day.
On the issue of social strata, even as there is state-sponsored assistance to the underprivileged, there should be provision of opportunities for skills development leading to meaningful employment.
In terms of the school, if there is a cluster in which this problem has root, the curriculum must be specially adjusted to include programmes that will, in a very specific way, teach young people to make intelligent choices, and in this, values and critical thinking must play vital roles.
As for the community, the scourge of negative stereotyping breeds negativity and lack of motivation among the young. A real effort must be made to create images of achievement in sport, in education inter alia, from which young people can draw inspiration and so redirect their thinking away from behaviours that can only lead to their detriment.
Dr Errol Benjamin