Highlighting impacts on next generation
Alcoholism, illegal drugs and child abuse are global problems that are taking a heavy toll on the social and moral infrastructure in a number of societies. These in turn create a massive problem for police and community authorities, who struggle to tackle a situation that mostly lies beneath the surface, and with too many victims becoming just another sad statistic.
That April is being used to highlight the impacts that alcoholism and child abuse are having on Bermudian society is encouraging, because it is a subject that will get only worse should we hesitate to confront it head-on. The prevailing bipartisan approach should be welcomed and, through more community efforts, our children will be better protected against dangerous elements. These include increased public awareness thanks to better education to strengthen the importance of values that are taught early on.
Good parenting has never been about simply providing food, clothing and shelter because developing children need much more along the way to becoming citizens capable of not only making a contribution to society, but also being better able to pass on good values to the next generation.
In today’s highly complex environment, clustered with just about every type of communication gadget, many children interact with each other better than they do with their own parents, and the art of conversation without any electronic interference has been on course for extinction.
This is so sad because it is a lack of proper conversation that has caused many parents to lose touch with a young mind that, beneath their noses, has drifted in the wrong direction totally undetected.
Recently in the United States, a tragedy was avoided when a father stumbled upon plans by his daughter who was intending to kill students at a school with weapons she had purchased. The father actually alerted police, who took her into custody where she is awaiting court proceedings — another case of what can easily happen when food, clothing and shelter are not enough.
Alcoholism in Bermuda is nothing new, and many families throughout our communities have experienced traumatic incidents directly related to alcohol abuse. Children have also been victims in some cases where domestic violence has ensued before their eyes, in addition to abuse behind closed doors.
Whenever police become involved, much of the damage has already been done. A damaged mind is not healed in a matter of days. Too often the community itself can be left to pay the price when someone with an acute antisocial attitude decides to activate anger against society. It is usually too late then to start talking about the subject.
Apart from alcoholism, illegal drug activity has also played a significant part in wrecking the mindset of many adults, including those with parental responsibilities. When that happens, and most of us know it does, a child under that umbrella is at risk of becoming a target for negative elements. Some children survive difficult situations through their own inner will to be successful. Others withdraw into another world with a feeling that society has neglected them. As shocking as it may seem, some young men have been incarcerated after being exposed to illegal drugs through a parent. That creates an even bigger issue, especially when the very people who should be setting an example are part of the problem.
Bermuda is proud of the many young people who today are taking advantage of opportunities that decades ago were not available. The entire community must continue to support efforts to plant the right seeds in young minds through guidance and concern in paving the way for Bermuda’s future. That process will involve leaders throughout all community life to send positive signals to our young people that steering clear of negatives that harm the body and mind — such as abuse of alcohol or the intake of illegal substances — will keep them on the path to success, not only in a chosen career but also as a strong positive citizen of the land.
Let us hope the conversation on this subject does not fade after April, and that all of Bermuda will at least pause and think about the children who need far more than food, clothing and shelter.
Whether we like it or not, the future of Bermuda could depend on how we together deal with the subject of alcohol and illegal drug abuse, which places the next generation under threat.
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