Mediation Services Division Hosts First 2017 Parent Support Group Workshop

The Mediation Services Division of the Ministry of Community Development, Culture and the Arts hosted its first Parent Support Group Workshop for 2017 on Wednesday April 26, 2017 at the St Mary’s Parish Hall in Tacarigua under the theme, “Violence in the Home.”

Executive Director of the Mediation Services Division, Beverly Harry-Emmanuel welcomed all of the groups in attendance.  She explored the adoption of principles and values that are based on aggression, coercion and violence by adults in the socialization of children, the negotiation of relationships and the pursuit of respect, recognition and power.

Harry-Emmanuel pointed out that violence was deceptive and unreliable, since the adrenaline rush that is experienced in its application evokes notions of invincibility. However, the deceptive nature of violence and the misuse of power lead both perpetrator and victim to confuse constructs of “respect” with “fear” and “subterfuge” with “compliance,” “authority” with “insecurity” and “loyalty” with “deception.” She lamented that too often violence is seen as a rite of passage into adulthood without realizing that the pervasive reliance on violence and aggression has created a culture of violence where our children have been nurtured to be angry and to bully those who are weaker and our relationships are our sources of pain.

Harry-Emmanuel cautioned that not only is violence deceptive and unreliable but it is also destructive, destroying trust, hope, dreams, families, communities, and in essence our lives.  She challenged the parents to leave the Workshop energized and informed as ‘parents united against violence.’

The workshop was facilitated by staff of the Community Mediation Services Division, supported by Arts in Action from the Department of Creative and Festival Arts at the University of the West Indies in St Augustine.   Together they creatively combined drama and music, to depict scenes of domestic, sexual and elderly abuse in the home, keeping participants engaged and facilitating interaction through a question and answer segment between members of the various support groups and the actors in the scenes.

Renee Williams and Veda Roach of the Mediation Services Division provided valuable information on domestic violence, which included sexual abuse; emotional abuse; controlling behaviours; elderly abuse and child abuse.   They also highlighted the damaging effects of violence in the home and how to break the cycle of abuse.

There was also a presentation on the “Prevention and Signs of Violence in the Home” by Kellon Charles and Renee Edwards, followed by a group activity among participants entitled, “A non-violent home.”

The programme then ended with a Vote of Thanks.

The second Parent Support Group Workshop is scheduled for Wednesday May 17, 2017, which will focus on providing the information necessary for parents to manage their families during times of economic hardship, which is often a potential source of family discord.

About the Parental Support Groups

The core intention of this initiative is to equip parents with the skills necessary to raise well-adjusted children and maintain healthy functioning families.  Membership is voluntary and is drawn from referrals from the Courts, referrals from other state agencies, persons present at the centres seeking assistance or members of the public who hear about the service and just walk-in.

There are approximately 300 members of these groups who meet monthly to discuss issues affecting their ability to establish and maintain healthy functioning families particularly when there is high conflict in the family.   Every year members of these groups come together to participate in two workshops.