A national survey has uncovered startling information that three quarters of parents in Barbados only use violent forms of discipline and it’s a major concern for United Nations officials. The 2012 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS), the findings of which were made public for the first time today, also pointed to worrying levels of obesity among children under the age of five years.
The survey targeted close to 4,000 households in 120 of the 583 established enumeration areas across the island.
Presenting the findings at the opening of a two-day national consultation seminar at the Hilton, UNICEF monitoring and evaluation specialist for the Eastern Caribbean, Oladimeji Olowu, said while Barbados continued to do very well in the areas of education, there were some other serious problems.
“The main issues are the violent discipline of children, which is very high at 75 per cent . . . . In terms of the households of parents or caregivers who only use non-violent discipline we see that this is low. It is only at 10.4 per cent. We notice that three out of every four parent or caregiver in households, use only violent means of disciplining children,” he added.
Olowu reported that about 62.4 per cent used psychological aggression, 55.7 per cent used physical punishment and 6.1 per cent used severe physical punishment. He also noted that obesity is “something to watch out for”. The study found that 12.2 per cent of children under the age of five were obese.
The UN official said the data also suggested that boys were “a lot fatter than girls”.
Olowu said one of the aims of the survey, which was carried out by the Barbados Statistical Service and UNICEF, was to find areas for development of children and children’s rights. When it came to reproductive health, the UN official said the survey found that about 6.7 per cent of women aged 20 to 24 had a birth before the age of 18.
It also found that about 55 per cent of children live in households without their fathers. Parliamentary secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs Jepter Ince said the new data would help to close gaps that existed. He said the report came “at an opportune time” since Barbados was required to report on the Millennium Development Goals next year.
After the two days of consultation by key stakeholders, the survey, which is the island’s first, is expected to be sent to Cabinet for “approval”.