Sun | Dec 5, 2021

Father, help our boys

Published:Thursday | October 14, 2021 | 12:09 AM

THE EDITOR, Madam:

Recent research revealed that approximately 200,000 minors experienced sexual abuse by clergymen in France since the 1950s.

That statistics could easily be much more as most times the abuse is not reported or ignored and ‘father’, the perpetrator, is sent to another parish, continent or country to hide the shame, while our innocent children have to suffer the long-term trauma of sexual abuse, which often causes them to become abusers themselves and society looks on as this vicious cycle continues.

Could it be that the church needs to allow those ‘fathers’ who have sworn to celibacy, but are not able to maintain such commitment, to get married so they can have intimacy with a legitimate partner than destroy the lives of our boys?

Abusers are often victims of their own experiences. Research shows that when children are bullied, beaten, do not have a voice in the home or have experienced sexual abuse, they become abusers themselves. They are trying to regain the power that was taken from them, which will create a sense of importance and validity. With professional intervention, however, they can escape becoming abusers.

A number of these victims served as altar boys in the church, which gave them a sense of importance, belonging affirmation, significance and power not experienced in their home, so ‘father’ assumes the position of power in their lives.

As we reflect on Mental Health Week, and the importance of having good mental health, let us seek to become advocates for the mental, emotional and physical safety for our boys. Good mental health allows children to think clearly, develop socially and learn new skills, able to function normally and contribute to society in a positive way.

BECOME AN ADVOCATE

Our boys are suffering and have lost their male identity. Hence, not able to fulfil their fatherly role which is a key missing link from many Jamaican household.

A number of men have lost their masculinity as a result of what was done to them as boys. Some of them are walking the streets eating out of garbage bins, while the prisons are packed with a number of deranged men who have become so vicious due to their past experiences. Society then tries to fix them, but let’s protect them while they are young and vulnerable.

Our children are depending on us to protect them, not to exploit them. Fellow Jamaicans, we need to act now. Conduct background checks on clergymen and make them accountable and become that advocate to save our boys.

BURTINE THOMAS

Associate counselling

psychologist