National Family Week 2013 October 27 â€“ November 2
Message from the Minister of Health Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson CD, DDS, MP
Family Week comes at a time when now, more than ever Jamaica needs the family. We see all around us the evidence of the adverse impact of weakened families. These range from the so-called â€˜barrel childrenâ€™, where children are left alone to make adult decisions and contend with harsh realities as their parent/s go in search of a better life in far-away places. They maintain a tenuous contact through remittances and food and clothing that is sent from time-to-time. We see vengeful angry young men forming themselves into marauding gangs exacting their brand of justice for the fact that they were left fatherless by a previous act of violence. We also see the pernicious perpetuation of persistent
poverty as our young women are caught in a vicious cycle of physical, psychological and sexual abuse. These result in a situation where almost a half of the children born are unplanned or unwanted.
The situation as it is and what it portends for the fabric of the Jamaican family is untenable. The latest survey shows that in the 15-19 age group 14.6% of births are unwanted. These unwanted children are immediate candidates for the conveyor belt of persistent poverty and privation. This cannot be good for Jamaica and its social fabric. We cannot continue to have this fabric being torn apart by the diminution or absence of strong families.
The theme for National Family Week, â€œStrong Families...Healthy Nation â€“ Family Firstâ€?, is therefore apropos. It is within the strong family that we will have the level of attention and nurturing necessary to reverse the disturbing trends that confront us. We will not have a healthy nation if the idea of a strong family is being constantly threatened by the unwanted pregnancies or the debilitating impact of the premature loss of life occasioned by the ravages of HIV/AIDS.
I am therefore proud that Jamaica is leading the way in an integrated approach to managing Family Planning and HIV issues. Through the one authority for sexual reproductive health we can have a greater impact through optimal resource utilization. Family Week is a good opportunity to assert the efficacy of this approach by a renewed sense of purpose and a further invigoration of the effort to have a healthy nation through strong families.
MESSAGE FROM THE CHAIRPERSON DR. SANDRA KNIGHT Charged with the responsibility of guiding our nation towards achieving global targets, the National Family Planning BoardSexual Reproductive Health Authority (NFPB-SRHA) through the observance of Family Week, seeks to strengthen Jamaicans to build and sustain strong families for a healthy nation. A healthy nation is one in which every child is wanted, loved and cared for by both parents, have a support system and a loving home, good health and receive a good education so they can reach their full potential and make informed decisions as they transition into adulthood. Family Planning empowers families to plan the spacing, timing and number of children, which enables them to limit unwanted pregnancies, and in the case of adolescent girls, the option to delay their first pregnancy so they can focus on their educational development. Through sexual and reproductive health care, families are able to improve antenatal, perinatal, postpartum and newborn care; by accessing high quality services for family planning, including fertility services; eliminating unsafe abortion; combating STIs including HIV, reproductive tract infections, cervical cancer and other gynaecological morbidities; so as to maintain a healthy sexuality. Quality SRH care is essential for controlling
population growth and wellness, which impacts the economy, natural resources, national development, health of the families and the nationâ€™s ability to care for itself. In todayâ€™s society, there is a multiplicity of issues that threaten the reproductive and sexual health of women, men and adolescents; especially vulnerable and at-risk groups, and key affected populations. Family planning is critical in mitigating these challenges and offers a multitude of health, social and economic benefits. The Family is the cornerstone of the society. It is from these stables that our lawyers, doctors, politicians, bankers, civil servants and entertainers are produced. These are persons who will influence decisions that impact our economic, social and development outcomes. If we do not nurture children to be considerate, moral, emotionally intelligent adults, then our destinies may be compromised. As we celebrate Family week, I ask that we give some thought to our own families and how we execute our responsibility to ensure their healthy and safe development. We at the Authority are committed to the helping you strengthen your family and we hope you are too.
Schedule of Activities DATE
Wednesday/Thursday (October 23& 24)
Sunday (October 27)
On-line Advertorial (includes Governor General’s Proclamation for Family Week) uploaded to afford the media an opportunity to access information for articles.
Church Service, Grace Missionary Church, at 10:30 a.m.
Website promotion of Family Week. Monday (October 28) High School Intervention with Parents at a Kingston-based High School, 9:30 a.m. – 11 a.m.
Marge Roper Rap session with Grade 9 students of a Kingston-based High school 1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Tuesday (October 29)
Workplace Intervention at the Ministry of Finance Health & Wellness Fair.
National Public Debate Face Off, Emancipation Park.
Wednesday (October 30)
Launch of the State of the World Population Report 2013, Chinese Benevolent Association Limited, 176 Old Hope Road, Kingston 6, 10 a.m. â€“ 4 p.m.
Thursday (October 31)
Community Interventions - select communities with a high prevalence of teen pregnancy and STIs.
Background and Purpose The family is the first agent of socialisation, economic viability and psychological maturity. It is where children learn aspects of their culture, self-identity and gender roles, rules of behaviour and healthy patterns of sexual interaction. It can be an extreme misfortune when a child is deprived of nurture, protection and care of a mother and father co-parenting as a healthy unit where in there is love, respect and appreciation for all its members. Sadly, the Jamaican family structure has disintegrated into dysfunctional interactions wherein almost a half of children born are unplanned and many UNWANTED. The latest survey shows that in the 15 to 19 age group 14.6% of births were unwanted. Among women 20 to 24, it was 8.4 % of births that were unwanted and women in visiting and no steady relationship were 13.6% and 23.6 % respectively were unwanted. When children grow up fatherless, and/ or motherless, the results can be quite detrimental to them and the society. For Jamaica to become the place of choice to live, work, do business and raise a family, it must become a place where every child is wanted, and planned by financially, psychologically and socially mature adults able to nurture the development of healthy, well-adjusted children into adults with high self-esteem and economic viability. This will lead to more productive individuals who can build the society. The different types of families in Jamaica include, but are not limited to, couples, single/sole-parenting (mother or father), sibling, extended and alternative (adoptive/foster) families. In Jamaica, 2012 had the least number of marriages compared over the previous 12 years, as reported by the Statistical Institute of Jamaica. There were 20,175 marriages in 2012 a decrease from 22,308 in 2001. While in some cases, Jamaican parents cohabit in common law relationships, there are more cases in which the parents live in different homes or different
parts of the same home.
This often results in children having great difficulty in consolidating relationships with
one or both parents. When parents’ relationships disintegrate children are always affected, especially if one is an absentee parent. Research shows; Zero to One Year - Babies at this age is beginning to form attachments, so it is important to minimize disruptions in their lives, and maximize love and affection. It’s also important that they spend time with both parents so that attachments can be formed with both. One to Three Years - Babies and toddlers at this age are become more mobile and gain communication skills. They are also able to recognize nurturing adults, and they become sensitive to separation. These kids need consistency in routine and patience from their parents to safely explore their environment. Three to Five Years - Kids at this age believe they are the centre of the universe, and so they feel responsible for the family divisions Parents need to be positive during exchanges, keep a consistent schedule, and tell the kids that the divorce or split is not their fault. Five to Ten Years - Kids at this age are entering school and forming relationships outside the family. They may try to reunite parents and may feel and act out intense anger. Parents should develop a schedule that allows for consistency with school and extracurricular activities, and support their kids’ interests and friendships. Ten to Twelve Years - Pre-teens tend to see things in black and white terms, and so may align themselves with one parent. Parents should encourage these kids to love both parents and support their kids’ school and other activities.
Early Adolescence (Thirteen to Fifteen Years) - Teens will often prefer to spend more time with friends than family, so allow room in the parenting plan for this. These teens need ﬁrm but fair guidelines and positive role models. Late Adolescence (Sixteen to eighteen) - Teens in this age group are learning to be independent to prepare for the separation from their parents, but they still need support and rules. These teens may also want to be included in creating the parenting plan. “Hallmarks of ‘positive’ father and mother involvement or care [may differ by theories, cultures and age of the child] but there are certain commonalities, [which] include activities likely to promote an emotionally secure environment and child wellbeing in the broadest sense, such as: warm, responsive and sensitive interaction; monitoring and guiding behaviour to set limits; spending time to listen and talk about the child’s concerns; encouraging age appropriate independent action in the home and neighbourhood; caring for the child’s physical welfare.1” The theme therefore, this Family Week is Strong Families… Healthy Nation - Family First! The aim is to shed light on the issues affecting families whilst promoting ways in which Jamaicans can build and maintain strong healthy families.
My Father Who Fathered Me What research tells us about Caribbean fathers – Caribbean Child Support Innitiative, 2008
Coalition for Better Parenting Ms Doret Crawford Co-ordinator
The family is the institution which bears the responsibility for nurturing, and providing the necessary resources for the child while ensuring that the child rights are recognized and upheld as stated in â€œArticle 18â€? of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
As the major agent in the
socialization process of young children, the family provides appropriate guidance and direction, determine the knowledge, skills, attitude, and values that will equip the child for societal roles, and ultimately influences the childâ€™s development towards becoming a properly functioning adult. As a catalyst
of change and growth, the family has continuously evolved over the decades to relate to the
environments in which it exists. A look at the family in the 21st. Century will show that the traditional nuclear family which society once upheld as the standard social unit to nurture the family is at is now a minority in many households, and stands the risk of disappearing. This is due mainly to the diversities of
and cultural changes, technology, globalization and the pursuit postmodern experimentation in the male and
female relationships and responsibilities.
have created varieties of family forms which have also
transformed some of the individual roles within the family. One example of individual role transformation is that of the shift in the male role as the sole or major bread- winner in the family. The Jamaican family is quite diverse and is expressed in family types such as the nuclear family, the extended families that can include grandparents, in- laws, cousins other relatives and friends, the single â€“parent family, the sibling families, blended families, cohabitation families, Joint/shared-custody families and foster families. One of the challenges that confront us as a nation is that a large number (45%) of Jamaican households are headed by females, usually with large numbers of children. With an increase in female unemployment, the matriarchal households are faced with high unemployment levels. Research has shown that 39% of all young women in Jamaica have a child before the age of twenty and about 32.8% of women experiencing pregnancy between the ages of 15-24 years first conceive while still in school .Women are therefore raising children before they have acquired skills to provide the children with the necessary resources. Added to this, is the prevalence of absentee fathers and a blend of unstable family relationships which makes the stable and harmonious family environment illusive to the Jamaican child. While this picture is not unique to the Jamaican family, the facts on the table would suggest that the Jamaican family system remains vulnerable under the social, economic, and cultural pressures of the society and the external pressure of globalization. The importance of strong families should not be underestimated in nation building since there is evidence to show that dysfunctional families produce dysfunctional people and dysfunctional people foster dysfunctional
societies. Strong families are necessary in nation building since it is within the confines of the family that the moral, social and ethical values are first introduced. It is also within this institution that the self and how we relate to others are first identified. It is where we learn to positively relate to our own emotions and those of others and in the process develop our humanity. Therefore, in moving forward with the vision of building a strong and healthy nation, much will have to be done to ensure that the rebuilding of families with positive value systems becomes the foundation of our development. Giant steps will have to be made through systems and the efforts of like-minded groups to focus on promoting traits such as caring, communicating clear roles, trust, commitment, encouragement, spirituality, community and family ties and spending time together. These traits will help to build strong families (Jamieson, 2010) and in the long- run, create more functional and productive citizens. This re-building can be achieved through educating individuals and groups at the national and community level, through policies, legislation and
training. Additionally, more holistic approach must be taken towards parent training and development,
the reduction in unplanned pregnancies and over all healthy lifestyle practices. No one group should try to undertake this challenge, but as a nation on a mission we should move forward together to support those faced with the challenge of rebuilding the familyâ€Śâ€Ś our first priority.2
Sources: (UNICEF Report, 2008). (Ricketts & Anderson, 2009). (Saralee Jamieson, 2010). (UNICEF Report, 2006). (Nick Bogardus- Article â€“The decline of the family) (CCPA, 2003)
Child Development Agency Mrs. Rosalee Gage-Grey Chief Executive Officer (Acting) The Child Development Agency (CDA) fully endorses the staging of Family Week, under the theme Strong Families…Healthy Nation – Family First! Strong families are indeed the foundation of a healthy society; it is only through a consistent and relentless drive to build healthy and productive families and communities that our nation will be able to achieve its fullest potential. Families exist as the first avenue of socialization for our children, and must be the environment within which children learn wholesome values, life skills and attitudes that will guide them towards becoming successful and productive citizens who are capable of contributing to nation-building. Unfortunately, a number of Jamaica’s children continue to be impacted by significant breakdown in family relationships due to social and economic pressures, and negative cultural practices and norms, including the culture of violence, improper ways of resolving conflict, and unhealthy social practices.
Over the last several years, there have been high levels of child abuse reported to the Office of the Children’s Registry and CDA’s Intake Desks island wide. Children have suffered physical, sexual and emotional abuse, and some have been neglected by those who are charged with the responsibility of loving and caring for them. In light of this reality, the Agency has been stepping up our drive to better protect Jamaica’s children, through intensified efforts to investigate child abuse; introduction of programmes focused on strengthening families, and advocacy and awareness drives to encourage families and community members to take personal responsibility for children to reduce the incidence of child abuse in the society. The Agency has strengthened our Investigation Unit which probes cases of child abuse to determine the best interest of the child, and support the preparation of reports to guide the Court’s decisions on the welfare of a child. We have also established Children and Family Support Units in two of our four regional offices – the South East Regional Office which comprises Kingston and St. Andrew; St. Thomas, and St. Catherine, and the Western Regional Office which covers St. James; Trelawny; Hanover and Westmoreland. In addition, the CFSUs, along with the Agency’s 14 parish offices island wide, provide intervention to families, as it relates to: Counselling for at risk children and their families, Connecting families with social partners for economic assistance, Conducting parenting workshops to enable adults to better execute their parental responsibilities,
and linking parents with programmes for skills and literacy training, to enable them to realize their own potential and to better provide for their children. So far, over 121 parenting workshops have been held through the CFSU, with nearly 1500 parents benefiting. Monthly workshops are also conducted through our parish offices, and all are geared towards equipping parents with the necessary skills while enhancing the welfare of children. CDA’s commitment to improved parenting in our country is driven by our firm belief that “the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.” We believe that by doing all we can to foster positive parenting; we will continue to play our role in transforming families, impacting communities and building a strong nation. Tips for Parents
Always know where your child is.
Spend quality time with your child – assist with homework; have dinner together and spend time talking and interacting.
Supervise your child even when he or she is at play; never assume that other persons are watching out for your child.
When running errands, always leave your child in the care of a responsible adult who you know well.
Develop an open, trusting relationship with your child.
Seek help if you are having challenges taking care of your child.
For further information on CDA’s programmes visit www.cda.gov.jm or call any of our parish offices or our Corporate Office at 948-6678.
Father’s Incorporated Dr. Herbert Gayle Chairman The family is the heart of a country, with the function of absorbing and dispensing cultural, social and economic resources to the many parts of the population. In order for the heart to pump nutrients to the body it must first be fed these nutrients as it does not produce them for itself. All hearts are not equally healthy and so it is with families. Families function only as well as they are constituted and supported. If the family is not functioning well a country gets sick, and cannot meet its development goals. Every family has advantages and disadvantages. No family is perfect. Yet all families can function to propel a country forward. Its health certainly depends on the social environment – one it depends on and one it creates. In summary, a family is expected to invest the material it gets from a society into a child and deliver back a stable, useful human product. The family’s functions can be broken down as follows:
The physical reproductive and sexual function means that women customarily give birth to children within a family union. There is regular sexual intercourse between parents or others unrelated by blood,
which stabilizes the male’s aggression, encourages him to hunt/work for the wellbeing of the offspring and others; and makes the mother more nurturing. Mothers deprived of sex can become uncaring and depressed.
The social reproduction (socialization function) refers to the upbringing of children into adulthood, a process that transfers habits and norms from one generation to another.
The protective function gives the members protection against bad weather, hunger and violence, and leads family members to take care of the young, elderly and sick. Though modern countries have security forces, they are but the secondary frame of protection.
The religious function has to do with the exercise of religious activities, which are supposed to occur mainly within a family unit. In many parts of the world secularization has made this function less important.
Finally, the emotional or primary group function ideally takes care of the family members' emotional needs. Boys need intense nurture from mothers up to late infancy, then gradually more of their fathers and other senior males; girls need a more balanced nurture across stages to establish and maintain selfesteem.
For society to work, social order is needed; otherwise chaos will occur, and society will fall apart. Here are 4 critical observations made from studying the Jamaican family:
Observation 1: The financial situation of a family depends on the social structures of a society and the decisions made by members of a family. Some societies foster the core requirements of development such as education and human resource; others lack development focus and social and political leadership. The decisions we make related to family form (couple, extended, single parents, alternative), number of
children, who compose our household, and the environment in which we live affect our ability to enjoy financial stability. Money is important! The problem is that many persons did not plan to be in a poor human environment, and simply have to deal with it. People who are educated, trained, entrepreneurial, or lucky to inherit money, or achieve it in some other way, have power to determine the environment (ecology) in which they raise children. Certain poor homes and communities are so stressful that they cause conflict due to the scarcity of money. There are often high levels of conflict in tenement situations where different families have to share facilities, and people constantly quarrel over money and space. Extended families (more than 2 generations or joint families) with one employed person to more than 2 unemployed have the most family conflict related to money (Chevannes 2001, Chevannes and Gayle 1998, Gayle et al 2010).
Observation 2: Money is not everything! The financial stability of a household has to be qualified by the quality of a child’s access to the resources. If a home has money but certain children do not have access it can create emotional trauma and conflict. Emotional support is more important and harder to achieve than financial support. The data are clear on the matter that children from wealthy homes who are not given enough attention are more self-destructive and suicidal than children from poor homes who receive overloads of love and affection – even if they are occasionally hungry. This is not to over-romanticize poverty, as the reality is that many adults of the urban poor are often too busy hustling to provide emotional support to their children. Love conquers a lot – but not all.
Observation 3: A poorly nurtured child, especially a boy, is expected to be aggressive (Crawford-Brown, 1997, 1999; Bowlby, 1951, 1958); and aggressive children are more likely to bond with other aggressive youth to create social violence. When there is conflict in the home it disrupts the household’s ability to nurture the child, leading to heightened aggression. Girls often withdraw or get depressed when neglected; and this
can destroy her self-esteem, and the life chances of her offspring – thus retarding society’s prospects. Give your child/children all you can afford.
Observation 4: Only 18% of parents in Jamaica make decisions about the family together, with 56% made exclusively by women; and only 34% of monies earned by men are planned by partners. Women (mother, grandmother, aunt) spend 44% of men’s money without men’s input. This is due primarily to father absence and poor home participation – but also is the result of ‘bad culture’ that emerged in response, but is now a problem. Only 34 percent of the men who hand over money to the powerful and overworked women in their households and say and do nothing about it want this to continue. That leaves a massive space for conflict and potential fracture. Power balance in the home affects boys and girls; they confuse them about partnership, seriously erode boys’ sense of masculinity, and deny girls the ability to know who to trust. Most cases of power imbalance indicate discord between parents and this affects children’s access to resources. Mothers are more likely to take care of their sons and fathers take better care of their daughters whenever there is a fracture. Fractures make families poorer and some single mothers are forced to sacrifice their boys to early hustling, and later ‘pimp’ their girls (Gayle 2012, Gayle et al 2004, Nurse, 2004). Jamaican parents must find ways to maintain good relations and try to make decisions together, whether or not they reside together. Having children is not a casual activity, as both parents are bound ‘forever’ by the child! Imagine if the mate is not ‘nice’. Plan - your – reproduction; Jamaica depends on it.
Jamaica Youth Advocacy network Jaevion Nelson Executive Director
Every so often we are feted with sensational headlines, which suggest--quite frighteningly--that children are “out of control”. In essence, they are “uncontrollable” and this is especially so where sex and other behaviours such as expression of self are concerned. If you follow the headlines, luckily not all of us do, our children are irredeemable as their exploration of sexuality waste their human potential to be “decent” and “productive” citizens of Jamaica.
To be fair, I can understand why some of us might be so alarmed given what has been happening. There are over 170,000 sexually active youth who are in multiple sex partnership. Adolescent girls aged 10-19 are three to four times more likely to become infected with HIV than boys of the same age (Ministry of Health AIDS Report, 2011). Eighteen per cent of live births in Jamaica are to teenage mothers (Reproductive Health Survey 2008). In
addition, among young people 15-24 years, there were 396,660 potential cases of HIV infection. Why? Simply because 42 per cent of them, for whatever reason, did not use a condom or choose only to use it sometimes. One reason is that there has been a significant increase of over 40 per cent of young people who believe withdrawing before ejaculation can prevent HIV transmission.
The question of family becomes even more relevant. Who are the parents of these children? What are they teaching them? Should they even have children since they are clearly ill equipped to socialise them? The plethoras of questions that are usually raised are of course crucial to the discussions and response to address this vexing issue among our young people. The Family Week's theme Strong Families...Healthy Nation - Family First is therefore very instructive and should serve as a catalyst for us to use engender better families. One way is through comprehensive sexuality education.
The Ministry of Health, National Family Planning Board and a host of non-governmental organisations, including the Jamaica Youth Advocacy Network (JYAN) have been advocating for comprehensive sexuality education and better policies and programmes and implementing a number of programmes to empower young people to safeguard their sexual and reproductive health. But the headlines protesting against attempts to equip our children with the information, skills, and resources desperately needed to manage in an increasingly oversexualized world outnumbers evidence-based programmes in this regard.
If we really want to build a strong nation, how can we reasonably say school is a place for learning and not for sex if we are asked to equip adolescents with the information and tools needed to protect themselves? Are we comfortable with children learning about such an important aspect of human existence from all and sundry? An article published in University of the West Indies' Caribbean Review of Gender Studies argues that "young people are teaching themselves about sexual practice and the gender roles that should underpin that practice". So, if we refuse to teach them about sex and sexuality in the classroom, what are they teaching themselves and where do they get this information? Perhaps from pop culture and (the lewd) dancehall music which strongly encourage 'daggering', violence, forced sex and promiscuity. In that case, let's punish them for listening to the instructions of those who wish to teach them instead of accepting responsibility for the consequence of our prejudice, fears, inaction, ignorance and misguided morals.
When my colleagues and I advocate for comprehensive sex education, which includes abstinence at the onset, it is to protect adolescents - not promote early sexual activity. The last thing we want is for our underperforming education system to become brothels. comprehensive sex education is not about promoting sexual initiation. It is a holistic curriculum which caters to the needs of all students â€” both sexually and nonsexually active. Therefore, it includes, among other things, lessons about abstinence, condom use and faithfulness. There is no way this information motivates children to become sexually active. This is the function of their hormones, not the education they receive.
Too many of us are misinformed about the purpose of condoms and what influences people, including adolescents, to engage in sexual activity, and are too excited to discharge ignorance. We accept adolescents are sexually active, but resent them being able to have greater access to condoms to protect themselves from sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and pregnancy.
A study on the effectiveness of sex education and HIV education interventions in schools in developing countries informs us that "sex education and HIV education interventions do not increase sexual behaviour" and that "a substantial percentage of interventions significantly decrease one or more types of sexual activity", such as sexual initiation, frequency of engaging in sex, and the number of sexual partners. Studies conducted in Seattle, Massachusetts and Philadelphia have found that the availability of condoms in schools does have an impact on sexual behaviour to the extent of increasing condom use and reducing unprotected sex. The level of impact is, however, dependent on the methodology used, how the condoms are dispensed, whether counselling is available, and so on. (See The Impact of Condom Distribution in Seattle Schools on Sexual Behaviour and Condom Use, Does Condom Availability Make a Difference? An Evaluation of Philadelphia's Health Resource Centres and Condom Availability Programs in Massachusetts High Schools: Relationships With Condom Use and Sexual Behaviour).
We must develop a multifaceted strategy to encourage the delay of sexual activity, and proper use of condoms. We don't need another values and attitudes programme to address these urgent matters. The Jamaican values and attitudesâ€” whatever those may beâ€” or the lack thereof that we seek to engender is not
the problem. Our quandary is our attitude of responding to issues without empirical evidence and our desire to court morals and approach our professions with our personal convictions. It is in the interest of all of us to ensure that children are afforded age-appropriate information, skills and resources that they desperately need to protect and safeguard their sexual and reproductive health so we can have better families, a strong nation.
Parts of this article were reproduced from the following previously published articles in the Jamaica Gleaner: Children Need Sex Education. January 24, 2013; Sex Education in Schools? No Way! April 4, 2013; and Condoms Arenâ€™t Aphrodisiacs. June 6, 2013
â€œPlay your part in advancing the whole human raceâ€? Jamaica National Pledge
Put Family First!
Charged with the responsibility of guiding our nation towards achieving global targets, the National Family Planning Board-Sexual Reproducti...