Editorial

Applause for a dedicated caregiver

Monday, October 29, 2018

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Readers will be aware that this newspaper has consistently argued that more needs to be done to secure the future of Jamaica's children, and by extension, the nation's future.

We believe far too many children fall through 'the cracks' — missing out on appropriate parenting and the schooling required to make them well-rounded, productive adults.

Many who grow up in the absence — or insufficiency — of love, caring and education end up with crime and antisocial behaviour as logical pathways.

We believe there has to be a cohesive, structured approach involving government, community, school, Church, so-called civil society, etc, to ensure all children — not just some — are protected, cared for and educated.

The task, we believe, cannot simply be left as a matter of course to individual parents; far too many of whom were themselves badly brought up and are now ill-equipped to bring up children.

Yet, for all of that, we recognise that the situation would have been far worse but for those at all levels, acting as professionals and as volunteers, who try their very best to protect the young.

In that respect, we feel compelled to point the reader to the work and example of Chief Probation After-Care Officer Sylvia Elveda Saddler, who recently received the Badge of Honour for 37 years of contribution to the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) at the national honours and awards ceremony on October 15.

We are told that Ms Saddler who also received a Medal of Honour for Meritorious Service in 2007, is in charge of supervising and coordinating the activities of probation officers in Region 1.

She is reported by JIS News as saying that, “I have enjoyed the job from the day I joined the service in November 2, 1981 at a correctional centre for girls.”

Much as she is appreciative of the national award, it is clear that Ms Saddler's job satisfaction comes from her role in improving the lives of those in her care.

Note her recollection of a text message from a young woman on Mother's Day 2018: “Thank you for believing in me when no one else did.”

Ms Saddler declared that the text message “really made my day”. Says she: “I have followed a few of those who were in the juvenile correctional centre, and they have done extremely well.”

Ms Saddler's experience will be easily understood and shared by a host of others in the service of children, such as teachers and social workers.

So too her plea to parents not to give up on children with behavioural problems, but to do their best to help at the personal level and with professional intervention.

“They (children) need your unconditional love,” Ms Saddler implored.

Life, after all, is not easy, and those who have brought children into this world should not expect a cakewalk.

We applaud Ms Saddler's commitment to share her knowledge and expertise with young colleagues in order to ensure continuity of care in the correctional services.

It's clear that we are still a long way from the comprehensive approach to child care we so crave, but Ms Saddler and her life's work represent yet more evidence that individuals can make a big difference.

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