The NCDA 2017 Jamaica School Health Survey, which was released in 2017, is still very relevant in 2018.
The study was conducted by the NCDA (National Council on Drug Abuse) survey of 1,667 students aged 13 to 17 years old in 41 schools islandwide. It was funded by the following NGO’s:
- WHO (World Health Organization)
- PAHO (Pan American Health Organization)
- OAS (Organization of American States)
- IAACC (Inter-American Abuse Control Commission)
Their 2017 Survey reveals that while most kids are fairly normal (Gilpin, J. A., 2017, November 29) and school violence is trending down, student are dealing with their emotional problems by abusing various substances, from alcohol, tobacco, painkillers and cough medicine (Wilson-Harris, N., 2017, December 3) to Sex (Gilpin, J. A., 2017, November 29 ).
NCDA 2017 Jamaica School Health Survey collected data from the student on the following:
- Tobacco and other drugs
- Dietary behaviour
- Physical activity
- Mental health
- Sexual behaviour
- Violence and injury
- Protective factors
So let’s get into the statistics, as they reveal a lot about what Jamaican High School Children may be facing in today’s schools.
NCDA 2017 Jamaica School Health Survey – Student are becoming less violent as they internalize their emotions
According to research analyst at NCDA analyst Uki Atkinson, there has been a drastic reduction in bullying and physical fights.
She made this revelation at the NCDA’s youth situation forum ‘Protect our Youth, Protect our Future’, which was held at the Pegasus hotel in New Kingston on Tuesday November 28, 2017, quote: “In looking at the data, we see, for example, that 31 per cent reported being in physical fights and this is, in fact, a reduction when we look at previous years. I thought it would have been the reverse, based on what we are seeing in the society, but based on the data we are seeing, there has, in fact, been improvement”.
2017 Global School Health Survey and Rapid Situation Assessment reveal the following:
- 41% of students report being bullied in 2010
- 24% of students report being bullied in 2017
- 46% of students reported being physically attacked in 2010
- 27% of students reported being physically attacked in 2017
- 51% of students reported being involved in physical attacking other students in 2010
- 31% of students reported being involved in physical attacking other students in 2017
Strangely, NCDA analyst Uki Atkinson wasn’t quite sure what accounted for the sudden drop in fights in schools, quote: “Based on the comparison, between 2010 and 2017 physical injuries and exposure to violence have been on the decline. This could be as a result of health-promotion activities, interventions and so on. Quite a few organizations are doing significant work in our schools”.
But the Director of safety in schools at the education ministry, Assistant Superintendent Coleridge Minto, backed up his claim, quote: “Violence in schools is actually down. When we look at 2012, there were 915 fights; 2013, 786; and although we only had 16 schools reported for 2016 – I suspect all schools were not reporting as they should – but all the major categories show that we were actually having a decline”.
This is indeed quite impressive decline in reported cases of fights:
- 915 fights in 2012
- 786 fights in 2013
- 16 fights in 2016
He even made a point to state the many of the incidents of fights reported in the media are overblown, as the data indicates otherwise, quote: “What has happened is that there will be a major fight in a school today, it is reported all over the media and it looks as if there is an increase, but all the data over the last three to five years has been showing a reduction”.
So based on the 2017 Global School Health Survey and Rapid Situation Assessment, student behaviour is improving:
- 80% are consider “normal” based on society and school standards
- 10-15% have some behavioural problems,
- 5% have chronic behavioural issues
According to Assistant Superintendent Coleridge Minto, these cases of chronic behavioural issues are being handled by the police, CDA (Child Development Agency) or a psychiatrist, quote: “The data is showing that 80 per cent of our students are normal, about 10-15 per cent have some behavioural problems, while one to five per cent have chronic behavioural issues, and these children are the ones you find before the police or CDA (Child Development Agency) or a psychiatrist. Majority of our students are normal”.
Given the fact that there is no known reason for this decline in one type of aggressive behaviour, the cause needs to be explored. It may hint at student or teachers either underreporting violent incidents or dealing with their aggression via abusing drugs.
NCDA 2017 Jamaica School Health Survey – Parents know of Drug Abuse and do nothing
It seems the latter may be true, as the NCDA 2017 Jamaica School Health Survey reveals that student may be abusing Alcohol, Tobacco and Sex (Gilpin, J. A., 2017, November 29) to deal with their emotional issues.
Worse, 50% of student reported their usage to their parents, who did nothing about it, to quote NCDA analyst Uki Atkinson: “In terms of parental knowledge of consumption of alcohol, what we are seeing is that over half of the adolescents reported that their parents knew that they drink, and there is no significant difference between the male and female students. That supports the cultural acceptance issue that we face with alcohol consumption”.
This may be due to the general acceptance that kids will experiment with alcohol once in awhile and nothing was wrong with that. This is especially true in the Inner City and Garrison areas where Marijuana usage is observably high, especially in areas where unemployment is high. So parent may simply not bother to take it seriously, even when they spoke to their child about it; drinking and smoking, after all, was a part of many parent growing up, and they came out find, they may reason.
NCDA analyst Uki Atkinson, who was speaking at the NCDA’s youth situation forum ‘Protect our Youth, Protect our Future’, which was held at the Pegasus hotel in New Kingston on Tuesday November 28, 2017, hints at this, quote: “Parenting factors were associated with all forms of drug use, so quality time that was spent showing affection and proper advice were lacking. In fact, the young people whose parents gave them advice were no different in terms of drug use than the ones who reported that their parents did not give them any”.
Jamaica is faced with a parenting crisis; parents, both old and young, are not taking substance abuse seriously.
NCDA 2017 Jamaica School Health Survey – Older and Younger Parents still not telling children about Sexual Responsibility
The NCDA 2017 Jamaica School Health Survey also revealed that parents are not addressing the sexual behaviour (Gilpin, J. A., 2017, November 29) among young people, as many are engaging in risky sexual encounters. This despite 50% of them knowing about their child engaging in promiscuous or sexual behaviour with their peers or even adults!
Student from corporate area schools used to create problems for the JUTC (Jamaica Urban Transit Corporation) by having sex in various places at the JUTC Transport Center in Half Way Tree (Deer, 2015, October 4). The Security and Police presence has since been beefed up, with CCTV Cameras and more lighting making this less likely.
So the student have resorted to making the Malls their playground, where they have been caught having sex in the bathrooms. This has become so much of a problem that the Pembroke Hall Primary and Pembroke High School have been banned (Robinson, 2018, January 7) from going over to the Boulevard Supercentre off Washington Boulevard.
Parents need to re-engage their children on acceptable sexual behaviour. Many parents may see it as being their children experimenting, reflecting on their own childhood experience.
Some parents may even be uncomfortable with talking to their teenager about sex, often resorting to using metaphors instead of being matter-of-fact with information on sexual practices, to quote NCDA analyst Uki Atkinson: “Parenting advice did not impact sexual behaviour, because parents would only say to their children, ‘Don’t bother with the hanky panky,’ and no explanation is given. Parents are still telling children that they were born on the doorstep, and so the advice they are given is not influencing them in terms of their sexual behaviours”.
This may be more difficult for boys, especially those that live in the Inner City or Garrison areas, as they are now being pressured into sex by more sexually aggressive girls. Boys already perform poorly in English as it’s perceived as effeminate (Deer, 2016, June 1), as many of them fear being bullied by other as well as by these sexually aggressive girls.
Worse, some of these sexually aggressive girls may be engaging in transactional sex being fuelled by the proliferation of smartphones and WhatsApp (Deer, 2016, August 24), which makes it very easy to communicate with other males and hide from parents, unlike Facebook and other Social Networks where some parents hang out!!
Parents need to spend more time with their children to explain the dangers of early sexual encounters (Gilpin, J. A., 2017, November 29) and how to deal with more sexually aggressive females, as pointed out by NCDA analyst Uki Atkinson: “Less than half of participants reported that parents spent quality time with them and there is not a significant difference between males and females, but there’s a slightly higher proportion of females reporting that parents spend quality time. So we have what I would describe as a parenting crisis in this country and it is not only about children raising children; we are seeing it across the spectrum in terms of older parents and younger parents”.
The NCDA 2017 Jamaica School Health Survey needs to be followed up by additional continuous yearly surveys to track these trends in High Schools. Clearly, albeit displays of aggression are down, student are coping by turning to alcohol, tobacco, painkillers and cough medicine (Wilson-Harris, N., 2017, December 3) to Sex (Gilpin, J. A., 2017, November 29) to deal with their emotional problems.
Here’s the link:
NCDA 2017 Jamaica School Health Survey
- Deer, L. (2015, October 4). How Jamaican Children are having Sex in JUTC Transport Center – How Free Wi-Fi and CCTV Cameras can help. Retrieved from https://mythoughtsontechnologyandjamaica.blogspot.com/2015/10/Jamaican-Children-Sex-JUTC-Transport-Center.html
- Deer, L. (2016, June 1). Why Jamaican boys Dislike CSEC English and Why Oral Exams are necessary. Retrieved from https://lindsworthdeer.wordpress.com/2016/06/01/jamaican-boys-and-csec-english/
- Deer, L. (2016, August 24). How WhatsApp is fuelling Transaction Sex among Jamaican Teenagers. Retrieved from https://lindsworthdeer.wordpress.com/2016/08/24/whatsapp-sex-jamaican-teenagers/
- Gilpin, J.A. (2017, November 29). Calmer Students – New Report Shows Drastic Reduction Of Violence In Schools. Retrieved from http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/lead-stories/20171129/calmer-students-new-report-shows-drastic-reduction-violence-schools
- Gilpin, J. A. (2017, November 29). Parenting Crisis! – More Than 50 Per Cent Of Parents Know Their Children Are Using Illegal Substances And Do Nothing About It. Retrieved from http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/lead-stories/20171129/parenting-crisis-more-50-cent-parents-know-their-children-are-using
- Wilson-Harris, N. (2017, December 3). High Schoolers’ Cocktails – Teens Abusing Drug Mixes Made From Cough Syrup, Popular Candies – NCDA. Retrieved from http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/lead-stories/20171203/high-schoolers-cocktails-teens-abusing-drug-mixes-made-cough-syrup
- Robinson, C. (2018, January 7). Plaza Ban! – Students Barred From Shopping Mall. Retrieved from http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/lead-stories/20180107/plaza-ban-students-barred-shopping-mall