Criminologist Yolande Forde is blaming poor female role models in homes and communities for what appears to be an upsurge in violence and other deviant behaviour among schoolgirls.
Forde’s comments to Barbados TODAY come against the backdrop of numerous social media postings of brawls involving girls in school uniforms, some posing with guns in and out of school attire, and of females in their early teens kissing and professing a preference for persons of the same sex.
“Children model their behaviour on the adults that they see around,” said Forde a criminologist of 22 years experience who specialises in policy initiatives relating to crime reduction strategies, correctional, remedial and judicial reform.
“One of the factors is that the women in their immediate sphere of influence are not necessarily modelling to them, or displaying to them, appropriate ways in which to resolve conflict.
“It might very well be the case whereby they live in homes, or an environment, where an aggressive response to any situation that is not amenable to them is the norm.”
She said that such surroundings make a child believe that violent responses are ‘appropriate’.
Throughout her comments, Forde stressed that reports and social media postings of deviant behaviour among teenagers, represent, “an apparent increase of young girls involved in particularly violent activities”, and indicated there is no supporting statistics to conclude that these acts are on the rise.
But, she said of those abnormal acts of teenage girls seen on social media, “there could be a number of reasons for this . . . This is not traditional with girls.
“This is something that might have been more typical among at-risk young males, but now we’re seeing – it might not be a trend – at least some girls who are engaging in this type of behaviour.”
Forde spoke of a faulty process of socialisation in the environment of these young people.
“Certain norms, values and mores are not necessarily passed on to our young women by the persons in their spheres of influence, namely their home and immediate community.
“They might also be coming from a community where violent response is normative. That is the normal way in which disputes are settled.
“This is a show of power, and they are learning that an aggressive response is okay, and this is why some of our young women may be actually choosing this method . . . ‘I can intimidate you by pushing a gun in your face’”.
Forde warned that these actions of young girls may point to low value systems among Barbados’ teenage females.
“Persons who are achieving in other areas have a greater sense of self-esteem and self-respect, but you are dealing basically with young women, or girls, who now see that use of violence is the way to show that you cannot ‘dis me’ and get away with it.”
The former National Council on Substance Abuse manager, made these comments following her participation in a St Michael School Alumni-organised panel discussion on: Crime And Violence And Its Effect On Today’s Youth.
“Crime is not some sort of abstract non-representational phenomenon, “she said during that discussion, and added, “Behaviours are essentially formed based on one’s thinking, one’s attitude and one’s perceptions.”
She said that behaviour was formed by a person’s environment, the norms and values that are passed on from one generation to the other, “Otherwise described as the process of socialisation.”
“The primary institution of socialisation is not the church, the school; it is the family.
“People usually do not wake up one morning with a propensity for aggression and violence.
“Very often people, including students, exhibit serious behavioral problems cultivated over years of negative socialisation.
“These students often come from culturally deprived dysfunctional homes where parents have limited parenting skills.”