Our young people are reared in a culture of violence Consumer Concerns
By Eileen Cox
Stabroek News
July 21, 2002

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Do you sit in front of your television set viewing with great interest and enjoyment the violent behaviour of persons acting out a drama? Or are you one of those who cannot miss a boxing match in real life or on the screen? Do you become excited watching two men - or two women - as they pummel each other? If you belong to any of these categories, then you, my friend, are assisting in establishing a violent society.

We of the older generation view these scenes on television with dismay. We wonder what has happened to the present generation. No longer are they interested in films based on comedy, romance, dancing, music. They watch violence. It is attractive to them as long as they are not the victims and there is no likelihood of the knife or gun being turned against them. Violence is the norm. Young persons know no other way of life.

Such is Guyana today. Efforts by others to bring back the healthy films of yesteryear have failed. This is the culture in which our young people are reared. We should not wonder if, as adults, they try to emulate what they have seen on the screen.

In collaboration with the Help and Shelter organisation the Domestic Violence Act is being reviewed in the Guyana Chronicle. In the issue of July 16 we are told that the victim of violence can apply for a Protection Order. An Occupation Order can follow a Protection Order. The Occupation Order "entitles the victim to continue to live in her or his home, even if the home belongs to the abuser. This means that the abuser cannot throw the victim out but the abuser will have no legal right to occupy the home while the order is in force."

There is also a Tenancy Order. "If the victim and abuser are tenants of the house they live in, the court gives the victim the right to be the only tenant. The abuser will have no legal right to live in the house."

It would be interesting to find out how many Occupation Orders or Tenancy Orders have been issued since the Domestic Violence Act was enacted in 1996. Can you imagine the effect such orders would have on the abuser if she or he owns the house or pays for the tenancy? How does the abuser survive when cash is low?

In the Sunday Chronicle of November 5, 2000, there is an article which is captioned "Mental disorders can begin in teenage years and go untreated for life." In the article, mental health was described as one of WHO's main priority areas. However, there seems to have been little focus on mental health in this country. The psychiatrist at the Public Hospital, Georgetown, cannot cope with the number of patients who seek treatment on each clinic day.

I understand that in Fiji some years ago, a request was made to WHO for assistance in training those who handled mental patients. The training was successful. Guyana might benefit if a request is made for help.

The Domestic Violence Act also provides that a person who is suspected of breaking a Protection Order can be arrested by a police officer without a warrant.

My contention is that reports of violent behaviour should be treated as requests for medical treatment. But we are in dire need of well-qualified psychiatrists. We also need round table discussions on the topic of violence and the treatment of violence.

Domestic violence is not only between married couples. There may be violence between persons cohabiting or not cohabiting but sexually involved. Mental disorders may lead to violence towards siblings or female relatives.

The violence that is destroying our society today should be handled not by the police force alone. How and why do persons become violent criminals?

We should seek to find out what conditions lead persons into violent crime. Can these conditions be removed? Can the churches regain their influence?

There is much to be tackled if the escalation of violent crime is to be halted and if society is to return to "the good old days."