THE EDITOR: Show us a child who hates to stay home from school.
Suspension from school as a consequence to problematic behaviour serves more as an informal vacation incentive than a formal corrective measure. Suspension can be likened to a “rite of passage” into peer popularity. Thus, why are we surprised that the Diego Martin North Secondary schoolgirls who have recently been suspended for alleged substance use have shown no remorse but, have resorted to self-glorification of their actions on social media?
Suspension alone does not lead to positive transformation. It does not repair and rehabilitate, nor does it address to the root causes of problematic behaviours.
Good news – youths who showcase problematic behaviours can positively transform. Besides necessary intervention from the Judiciary of TT’s Children Court and its annexed Peer Resolution programme, psychological intervention is warranted. In comes forensic psychology.
The application of psychology in the context of the law is an international best practice that has continued to prove itself. Regarding juvenile delinquency, this brand of psychology serves as a tool to identify the causes of delinquent behaviours by gleaning insight into the mind of the youth who commits an offence.
Apart from peer pressure, psychological research has shown bleak associations between emotional disturbances, sexual/ physical abuse, maladaptive parenting styles, academic failure, trauma and juvenile substance use. These associations are also identified in cases of other problematic juvenile behaviours. Thus, it can be argued that if psychological tools are utilised to assess the girls, one or more of these trending psychological themes may surface.
Thankfully however, the employment of forensic psychology also involves the application of clinical strategies to address these themes. For one, cognitive-behavioural strategies used to positively alter thought and behavioural patterns can provide the positive transformation we want to see in these girls.
The appropriate use of forensic psychology can circumvent recidivism. Let’s use it.
Britteney Cayenne, MA
Forensic mental health professional