Educator blames child abuse for school behavioural problems

Fontaine said abuse is affecting children's abilithy to learn
Fontaine said abuse is affecting children’s abilithy to learn

Chief Education Officer, Melena Fontaine has said some of the behavioural problems of children at schools in Dominica are the result of sexual and physical abuse.

Fontaine made that statement when she addressed the NGO Coalition for the Protection of Children and Youth’s second Town Hall meeting on child abuse which took place at the Prevo Cinemall on Wednesday.

“We are having behaviour problems in schools and we know that some of it is related to child sexual abuse and child physical abuse as well…and also we see it in the behaviour of our children,” she said.

She stated some of the students’ ability to be educated is being affected.

“Some of them cannot learn, not because they do not have the capacity to learn, not because they do have a good functioning brain but because emotionally they cannot sit in a class and function,” she stated. “When your father, when your mother, when your uncle and your brother and your cousin and a family friend abuses you the night before, there is no way you can come and sit down in a class next morning and say you are doing work.”

Not only that, she pointed out, but the entire child is affected.

“Your attention is affected, your memory is affected, your entire body is affected and if we, as education officials, if we, as schools, do not understand, we are going to go about our merry way teaching children and at the end of the day saying that they cannot learn and we know that, that is not a fact,” Fontaine explained.

She noted further that it is not the school’s responsibility to take care of what is happening at home.

“It is you the parent’s responsibility to take care of what is happening at home, and know that what is happening at home affects what is happening at school,” Fontaine said.

Fontaine revealed that there are situations where counsellors had to be assigned to a number of schools to find ways in dealing with children affected by sexual abuse and in some cases children have lost their minds and have suicidal thoughts after being abused.

“They lose their minds and we have had to refer children to the psychiatric unit,” she revealed. “Our officers have had to spend weekends, when they should be at home relaxing with their children, dealing with children in the psychiatric unit. And then the worst one, they think about it, they plan it, they want to do it and some of them actually do it. Fortunately we have not lost somebody…”

One of the challenges of the Ministry of Education is the reporting of child abuse, Fontaine noted.

“We have to work on that and we have to deal with it, we have to deal with our teachers, recognizing the symptoms and reporting it as soon as they do,” she stated.

Another problem, she said, is reporting from parents.

“Sometimes they come to us and they want us to deal with the behaviour, but they don’t want us to really deal with the physical abuse…” she noted. “Some parents are saying this is the person who is supporting my home and I don’t want to report that person.”

She also pointed to the difference between punishment and child abuse.

“If you are punishing a child by squeezing her breasts that’s sexual abuse…if you are correcting a child by squeezing their private part, it is not a punishment, its sexual abuse,” Fontaine said.

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  1. Caretaker
    June 15, 2015

    This has been going on for too long A child is going to school to learn and improve their way in life.Full stop. A child got pregnant while in school,she has forfeit her education. she goes and have baby and return to the same school,the others think the school is a joke and follow suite.After school they go and breast feed instead of doing home work.

  2. OneDestiny
    June 15, 2015

    No, you are wrong, just as some of the bloggers are saying the education system, particularly teachers are the cause of the students behavioral problems…..all of you in the White House on Cornwall street think so…..don’t go blaming the homes now. It’s not right….please absolve everyone but the teachers of their responsibilities towards our students. Meanwhile teachers are banging their heads desperately trying to find solutions,while maintaining their sanity!!

  3. Liberty
    June 13, 2015

    Cannot believe that the Chief Education Officer should make the statement”schools have no responsibility for what happens to a child at home’The school has the duty of responsibility to take action if they are aware of abuse to a child at home.

    • Francisco Telemaque
      June 15, 2015

      Now let us be reasonable: I do not agree with a lot of the nonsense she spoke, nevertheless, she is correct in this case; school teachers are not responsible for what takes place in the home of any child; that is the responsibility of the parent!

      In Dominica as soon as something tragic occurs everybody screams pray to God: but here is what God said in Proverbs: 22: 6 “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. If parents train, and discipline their children in their homes, teach them manners and respect, and how to respect others, when they go to school they will behave respectfully.

      it starts from the first day in the home when the child rudely throws a tantrum, and disrespect the parent, and the parent laugh at it like a joke. That becomes repetitive, until they take it to school; the blame lies with the parent!

  4. June 13, 2015

    The gov’t should put laws in place in order to protect these children,,,teahers should be given the right at school to find out from the children how they are treated by their family ,friends and strangers,,,after the report from the children ,the teachers should call the police ,there should be someone from school to accompany that child in order to make that child feel safe and comfortable in the police station,the police should question the child and put who ever is concerned of any criminal act against the child under arrest and make show that they are persecuted and severely punish ,while the child should be taken off their parents for their own protection ,,,

  5. un godly
    June 13, 2015

    are things that bad i Dominica

  6. The Real Facts
    June 12, 2015

    It is a sad situation for especially good, caring parents and their children. Some parents know nothing about proper parenting. For some children it may not be physical abuse but emotional abuse.
    If children are unhappy at home obviously they cannot function in school. They have grave concerns which could also confuse their little minds. They are worried at what occurred to them and will recur when they return home. They may not even be able to eat and sleep properly and are inwardly crying for help, wishing their situation were different.
    If adults experience domestic problems at home, they, too, will not be able to function at work. Their work will suffer.
    Today, times are different and also in Dominica. I am aware that D/ca has progressed since I resided there. This is a compliment. :) Therefore, the matter of protecting children and dealing with those abusers must be taken seriously and dealt with for the sake of the children and their sanity.

  7. The Real Facts
    June 12, 2015

    This situation is to be taken seriously. Some homes are unfit for children to reside.
    You also have to indirectly delve into the personal life of the parents and to inform them, other than the few dollars some of them receive, why can they not send the child (children) to live with another family member.
    This means to discuss the situation with them. If they refuse to do something about it while their children are suffering emotionally and physically, the suggestion is to remove the children from those homes. The Law must protect them.
    If this occurred in Canada, once it is brought to the attention of the authorities, without much ado, those children would be immediately taken out of those homes. The authorities would be on their doorsteps.
    Teachers who know the children are abused in whatever manner will telephone the authorities. They will appear to get those children right in school. They will not return to the home. Then they will meet with their parents.

  8. The Real Facts
    June 12, 2015

    The government has homes where these children will be placed temporarily and while they also work with their parents to restore some stability at home. If it is not possible, the children will be placed in a foster home.
    The parents would be charged for allowing their children to be abused and for a few dollars. They are answerable to God for this. These parents need psychological help.
    Does it not hurt their hearts that their children are sexually abused? How could they be comfortable knowing what is occurring to their children? Those who inflict this on children are themselves guilty and should be arrested.
    Can their MP’s who represent these constituencies not do something about that and speak to the parent(s)? Surely, there must be an authorized person who could best handle the situation. Anyway sexual abuse should be reported to the police.
    Something has to be done about that! They are children and should be living a happy, innocent life.

  9. The Real Facts
    June 12, 2015

    We cannot afford their little lives to be spoiled to the point of these children ending up in a psychiatric ward with thoughts of suicide. Their entire future is spoiled and they have not yet commenced living.
    The government will have to take stringent steps to also speak with their parents and legislate the bill of child abuse and letting it be known that this behavior on the part of adults will not be tolerated, that the perpetrators will be dealt with the full brunt of the Law.
    Chief Education Officer, you are in a position to do something about that immediately. Please do something and make haste.
    No more unhappy children and those who have thoughts of suicide and ending up in the psychiatric ward.
    I am informing you, this hurts the Most Sacred Heart of Our Lord Jesus Christ. He spoke, in no uncertain way what should be done to those who cause one of his little ones to sin and to be unhappy in such a manner. Please do something for those children.

  10. Jaime Lewis
    June 12, 2015

    We keep hearing that there is a problem with the significant number of children who are being sexually and physically abused. When are we going to hear about the solutions? I call on the authorities to buckle down to focusing on solutions. This is a problem that must be addressed by different factions of the society. The time is now! This disease is going to have long-term effects on our youth. They will be unable to function effectively as adults. They will not be able to work. They will not be able to engage in healthy and wholesome relationships. Less TALK! We need ACTION!

  11. Tina Alexander
    June 12, 2015

    The Chief Education Officer also said that any sexual relationship between a teacher and a student is unethical and will not be tolerated. She said it is unethical, whether the student is underage, when it is illegal, or whether the student is 16, 17, 18, 19 or even 20 ! She agreed that this zero tolerance position was for all educational institutions in Dominica!

  12. Big Bannan
    June 12, 2015

    Really ? A large percentage of our children are physically and mentally abused in the schools itself, especially in the country side . Our children are anxiety stricken by answering a question the wrong way, or sometimes simply by asking the wrong question. The schools themselves and our violent culture is the reason our children do not learn.

  13. Tasie BAT YHWH
    June 12, 2015

    “Some parents are saying this is the person who is supporting my home and I don’t want to report that person”.

    This has been happening from Genesis and beyond. Some women are so dependent on their mates, that they lost all hope of becoming self-sufficient. As such, they turn a blind eye when their sexual psychopath boyfriends violate their children. In fact, they get so comfortable with the situation, it becomes normal to them. They [mothers] too need psychological help.

  14. Francisco Telemaque
    June 12, 2015

    No one will disagree that there are all sorts of child abuse in the country, nevertheless, to blame the behavior of a student body on the abuse of a few children is utter nonsense!

    Hogwash; there are other mitigating circumstances, such a hunger, and a series, or multiple psychological issues which cause behavioral problems.

    In the first place you do not even know that sexual abuse and physical abuse are practically one of the same thing sexual intercourse has to be physical! I can rest my case, but you should have learnt the definition of the word physical before you made that closed statement; since physical could be characterized as rugged, and forceful activity, such as what people do to loose weight! there are many different definition to the word.

    Get familiar with the term attention deficit, before you talk crap, and embarrass yourself!

    • Francisco Telemaque
      June 12, 2015

      Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, which is a mental disorder occurring in children, and adolescents, and marked by inattention, impulsivity, and in most cases hyperactivity.

      In some cases neurological signs such as poor hand-eye coordination, or electroencephalographic abnormalities are present. Also called minimal brain dysfunction! So, the nonsense you are talking makes no sense whatsoever.

      I can get into the science of alcoholism, and detail what happens to the brain of children born to parents who are alcoholics, or over indulge in the consumption of alcoholic beverages during pregnancy, but that is not necessary. I will conclude by saying as soon as some of you become government minister, you become privy to the answers to everything. Any meteorologist, involve, and know about attention deficit will laugh at you!

      • Francisco Telemaque
        June 14, 2015

        “Any meteorologist, involve, “((FET).

        Anyway, I should have written ” Any psychologists involve!”

        So, what I’m saying is that any psychologist or psychiatrist involved into psychotherapy know any of a number of related techniques for treating mental illness by psychologic methods these techniques are similar in that they all rely mainly on establishing communication between the therapists and the patient, adult, or a child, as a means of understanding and modifying the individual behavior.

        There are occasions, when drugs may be used; however, only in order to make communication easier: Now; the question is how many of the children with behavioral problems are mentality ill caused by a chemical imbalance in their brain; and how many are simply badly brought up from home, and are simply disrespectful? Right now there are people in the Village known to have beaten a teacher, in school, broke his glasses on his faced, such people are near sixty, and are quite normal;…

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