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Mahabir-Wyatt: Don’t rush to judge teen yet

Saturday, April 21, 2018

It could be “nature not nurture” which led a troubled 15-year-old boy to brutally attack his mother on Thursday, head of the Coalition of Domestic Violence, Diana Mahabir-Wyatt, said yesterday.

Calling on the public to take a pause before criticising on how the teenager was raised, Mahabir-Wyatt said scientific studies show there are genes associated with violent crime which lead people to commit violent acts.

“Some young people are born with violence in their DNA and research shows if you have a parent or grandparent who is quick to anger and had a propensity to violence, it was possible that you also could inherit violent genes. I cannot be sure if that is the case with this teenager. His action was so irrational,” Mahabir-Wyatt said. However, she noted that the mother’s decision to take away the boy’s cellular phone, which is being looked at as a possible trigger to the brutal attack, was normal.

Mahabir-Wyatt said the teenager has to receive counselling and an assessment must be done to determine whether there was any incident from his childhood that imprinted a pattern of anger in him.

Asked what parents could do to identify these violent genes before it’s too late, Mahabir-Wyatt said if anyone has a child who was always angry they must seek professional help.

“The child needs to get help right from childhood, from the age or three or four,” she said.

She admitted that accessing the services of a child psychologist privately could be expensive. However, she said Childline can provide assistance to children free of charge.

“The Children’s Authority is overworked but you can call them or you can call Servol and a professional can examine and assess the child,” Mahabir-Wyatt said.

She said the Coalition Against Domestic Violence also has social workers who can provide guidance to the parents and the affected child.

She explained, however, that if a child displays a progressive pattern of violence and anger it should be picked up by school officials.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education said the Student Support Services offers counselling and advice to troubled children. Divided into four major units, Guidance and Counselling Unit, Social Work Unit, Special Education Unit and Development Assessment Intervention Unit (DAIU), the SSS provides psycho-social, educational and behavioural services for students, the ministry said.

Asked whether the SS was fully staffed to deal with all incidents, a ministry official said yes.

“There is no incident that we have not dealt with.”

In light of reports that some school principals may keep incidents of violence under wraps to protect the image of their school, the ministry official said parents can go to any educational division and lodge a report there.

“In most cases, the standard procedure is to talk to the principal and the school does a referral, but if you think that principal is covering it up you can talk to the school supervisor directly or call the SSS directly,” the official said.

The ministry said it was continuing to collaborate with the T&T Police Service to do seminars on conflict management and student indiscipline.

On Tuesday, the boy had an argument with his mother over the seizure of his cell phone, following which he chopped her several times, severing her hand. She remains warded at the San Fernando General Hospital.


Childline- 800-4321
The Children’s Authority Hotline Numbers: 996/800-2014
Police: 999
ChildLine: 131 or 800-4321
Victim and Witness Support: 624-8853
Child Guidance Clinic: 726-1324
National Family Services Division: 624-8218 or 627-1163
Coalition Against Domestic Violence- 624-0402
Student Support Services 622-2181; Ext 1033/1034/1035/1036


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