A call has been made for social workers to work more closely with guidance counsellors in secondary schools to help curtail incidences of violence.
It has come from Lisa Jaggernauth, a temporary lecturer in social work at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus.
While pointing out that a recent study had shown that there is a direct correlation between violence among secondary school students and violence in homes, Jaggernauth said social workers had a critical role to play.
She made the comments while speaking on the topic ‘Tackling the Problem of Violence Among Secondary School Students in Barbados’ at the 20th Annual SALISES Conference which continued this morning at the Hilton Barbados Resort.
“I do believe that social workers must be in a position to complement the role of guidance counsellors within the schools because the guidance counsellors do not have the autonomy to take the process as far as it needs to go in addressing violence,” Jaggernauth said.
“They are more career guidance counsellors, they are more academic counsellors, whereas the social worker will have the autonomy to go to a home, to visit a family, to find out what’s going on and what measures need to be put in place, so you can get a bit more support there.”
However, she warned parents that they needed to be extremely careful what they exposed their children to.
“It is almost like a clear link to show us some reflection of what’s going on in the home being carried into the school environment,” she charged, while pointing out that the study had shown that violence among children peaked between the ages of 13 and 14.
“When students saw physical fighting in the family environment it didn’t have as significant an impact as when they saw that fighting among their parents. So this is saying to us that our parents still must be cognisant of handling their own lifestyles and the effect it is having on the children,” Jaggernauth pointed out.
“Students who are exposed to violence in the home are likely to perpetrate violence at school.”
The lecturer said it was especially worrying that just under 25 per cent of the students interviewed admitted to being either slapped or punched as forms of punishment.
She said the study showed that a lack of discipline in the home; lack of supervision from parents; witnessing violence among parents and parents who showed little love and care for their children were some of the situations which influenced violent tendencies among children.
She also revealed that violence was more prevalent in “lower” performing schools than it was in “higher” performing schools.
Jaggernauth said the study also showed that males were more physical while females were more inclined to participate in verbal abuse.