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Wednesday 16 October 2019
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Settling scores without violence

Traumatologist longs for a return of the panchayat system

File Photo: Children’s Authority chairman Hanif Benjamin.
File Photo: Children’s Authority chairman Hanif Benjamin.

TT has become such a violent nation that people need to pause and do some soul searching or the situation would only get worse.

Commenting on the savagery of some of the violent acts, president and chief executive officer of the Centre For Human Development Hanif Benjamin said people need to manage their anger, mental illness and gain some understanding and patience.

Benjamin, a clinical therapist and clinical traumatologist, said TT has lost its patience and ability to sit and reason.

He called for the return of the panchayat system where elders in the communities settled scores without violence.

Pointing to the recent stabbing of a teacher in the presence of her students, and a road traffic accident which ended with a woman being stabbed, he said it is unfortunate where TT is as a country.

“We are a traumatised nation. We are a violent nation and we have lost the ability to sit and reason. Now we are resorting to a level of violence and decadence that is pervasive in the society,” he lamented.

What he said is frightening, “is that it has reached sacred grounds, such as schools and places of worship.”

Benjamin, who is chairman of the Children’s Authority, said he was worried about the effect exposure to traumatic situation can have on the future of children.

He said such trauma is often manifested as depression, isolation, anxiety related situations and in children “behaving badly” as they relive or practice the type of trauma perpetrated against them.

Apart from the teacher-stabbing incident in the classroom, two children, ages two and 12, witnessed their mother and grandparents being chopped at their Palo Seco home.

On Mother’s Day, the shooting death of Ryan Alexander was witnessed by his three-year-old son and seven-year old brother at Tarodale.

“Violence has found itself in priests getting tied up and assaulted and beaten and robbed and those are things that we would not fathom,” Benjamin said.

For the year, at the Lakshmi Narayan Temple and the Radha Gopinath Mandir, pundits and their families were attacked and robbed.

A mosque in Sangre Grande was also robbed, and bandits threatened to cut off the legs of Fr Jose Marie Thekkekute when money raised during a harvest and family day at Our Lady of Montserrat RC Church could not be found.

Recently a Muslim worshipper, Hannif Mohammed was murdered at a Couva mosque.

All these violent acts, Benjamin said, “tells us we must take pause as a nation and deal with these issues or it is only going to get worse. We need to deal with our mental illnesses.

“We need to deal with stress because this is saying to me that we do not know how to manage basic stress in our daily lives. Our normal coping mechanisms have been overrun.

“We must begin to examine self. We must begin to teach children how to manage anger. We must begin to teach one another to be patient and understanding. We are no longer patient people. The way we drive, the way we interact, we snap at everything, everyone. People are living on the brink.”

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