Early childhood in the Caribbean

Early childhood in the Caribbean

Analysing the lives of the under five's in Trinidad and Tobago and Dominica

This report looks at the development and socialisation of children under five years of age in two Caribbean countries, Trinidad and Tobago and Dominica.

The report finds that although most children are loved and cared for, the lives of many are scarred by poverty. Poverty prevents many children in the communities concerned from developing to the full, which also means that the rights they have under the Convention on the Rights of the Child are rarely delivered, despite both countries having signed it. In addition, as well as direct deprivation, poverty is also the factor behind the fragmentation of families in the region often as a result of migration and the acute stress felt by many adults.

While both countries analysed in this report have strong school systems, care for younger children is often unavailable or unaffordable. Further to this child-rearing in the communities concerned and corporal punishment is common and children are often ignored, shouted at or belittled.

The report concludes by stating that in the longer term, there may be a growing appreciation that children whose early years have fed their moral, social and intellectual development, and who have been in a loving environment in which they were valued as individuals, are more likely to become valuable members of society as young people and adults.