Secretary of the Psychiatrists Association of Trinidad and Tobago Dr Varma Deyalsingh has observed that children are experiencing more emotional problems than previous generations and advises parents to learn when to seek help from trained social workers and counsellors.
He was commenting on the seeming rise in violence in teenagers with the latest incident involving a form four student who chopped off his mother’s right hand in a fit of rage last Thursday. In an interview yesterday, Deyalsingh said, while society always had to deal with the “restless, rebellious youth” who questioned authority and religion, today’s young people were being heavily influenced by violent video games which had seemingly become part of the local culture. “What we are faced with, is this media violence in terms of they are looking at the violent video games, and these violent video games now appear to be a part of every home, it appears to be part of our culture of upbringing of children. So imagine, here you are a child, trying to face your normal problems in terms of your emotions, your feelings, your sexuality, your individuality, you dealing with your changing body issues, which is normal but now there is a new factor in this generation, where there is easily acceptability of violence – violent video games around the clock.” He said while there were studies that showed video games by themselves might not affect the majority of children, the gaming violence would have a detrimental effect on those young people who exhibited emotional problems. He said they would exhibit changes in behaviours such as “a lack of sleep or a change in their sleep patterns, a change in their friends in school, they may start to dabble in drugs to cope, and would be cruel to pets or other animals” and begin to look at weapons.
“These children tend to read a lot of behaviour as anger,” he said, adding, “There is more emotional problems in children, they more bipolar, they more depressed, we getting more anxiety, the school system is also jamming the children and what we are finding is that children in normal, affluent homes without any sort of violence in the homes or community violence, the video games are now bringing violence at their fingertips. “We are seeing more children – statistics show that in the 15 to 29-year-old groups, suicide is the second highest cause of death,” he said. He said counselling services were available from the Family Services unit of the ministry of Social Development as well as from support counsellors at the schools or local churches, temples or mosques as well as from other family members.