Minister: Addressing Multi-Generational Trauma

October 11, 2012

Some of the anti-social behavior that is exhibited in our community may have its “genesis in unaddressed multi-generational trauma,” Minister of Youth, Families and Sports Glenn Blakeney said yesterday [Oct 10].

The Minister was giving an update regarding the work being undertaken by the Inter-Agency Committee for Children and Families, focusing on multi-general trauma or family dysfunction.

Minister Blakeney said: “So what is multi-generational trauma? It commonly described as traumatic experiences that are ‘passed down’ from one generation to the next, and which go unrecognized and/or unresolved.

“Multi-generational trauma often leads to unhealthy relationships and behaviours that can be manifested in many ways e.g. family conflict and dysfunction, drug abuse, sexual abuse and gang-related violence.

“Within the Ministry of Youth, Families and Sports, we have already begun to restructure around family solutions to deal with family dysfunction,” continued the Minister.

“However, it is fundamental for us to recognize that some of the anti-social behavior that is exhibited in our community may have its genesis in unaddressed multi-generational trauma.”

“I believe that an understanding of unaddressed multi-generational trauma in Bermudian families will be important to the development of alternative strategies that will assist in addressing family dysfunction, and reducing gang-related violence.

“As the Minister responsible for Youth and Families, I support the work that IAC is doing, and I commend its Chairperson, Martha Dismont, for her leadership in this area.”

The Minister said he intends to table legislation in the House of Assembly to give statutory standing to the Bermuda Family Council, which will give them a more defined role in promoting the strengthening of families

Minister Blakeney’s full statement follows below:

Good Afternoon and Welcome,

Today, I take pleasure in highlighting the work of the Inter-Agency Committee for Children and Families, a 17-year old association of public/private human service providers who network, collaborate and provide training in support of service provision to children and families here in Bermuda.

Until recently, the focus of the IAC was primarily the coordination of best practice training for organizations working towards accreditation or certification. Following a 2011 strategic planning exercise, the IAC decided to strengthen its focus and increase its advocacy for children and families. To this end, IAC held a series of meetings and workshops (referred to as convenings) to address some of the core social issues facing families on the island, and to identify gaps and duplication in services.

Over 80 social service agencies and individuals attended the IAC’s final convening meeting of 2010. This meeting was facilitated by Root Cause, a research consulting firm based in Boston, Massachusetts. Based on the data gathered at the convenings, social service providers identified ten presenting challenges from families utilizing services. The top three presenting concerns were:

1. Unhealthy relationships due to unaddressed multi-generational trauma
2. Lack of education
3. Lack of life skills

I recently met with representatives of the IAC to hear about some of the work that they are doing. In particular, the IAC has begun to explore ways to address what they see as Bermuda’s number one presenting problem for families seeking help i.e. unhealthy relationships due to unaddressed multi-generational trauma.

Jeff Bormaster of the Child Welfare League of America, who is here with us today, has assisted the IAC since 2000 with training to support improvement in quality outcomes in service delivery. Today he is facilitating the third workshop held to date on unaddressed multi-generational trauma. Yesterday, Mr. Bormaster made a presentation to Cabinet on behalf of IAC on the topic of unaddressed multi-generational trauma.

So what is multi-generational trauma? It commonly described as traumatic experiences that are ‘passed down’ from one generation to the next, and which go unrecognized and/or unresolved. Multi-generational trauma often leads to unhealthy relationships and behaviours that can be manifested in many ways e.g. family conflict and dysfunction, drug abuse, sexual abuse and gang-related violence.

The solutions framed to address multi-generational trauma will not be easy. But as a society that prides itself on being progressive, democratic and caring, we must tackle this issue head on. It is necessary for us as a community to understand how traumatic experiences affect children, get carried into adulthood, and then are passed on to the next generation, unresolved and unaddressed. Within the Ministry of Youth, Families and Sports, we have already begun to restructure around family solutions to deal with family dysfunction. However, it is fundamental for us to recognize that some of the anti-social behavior that is exhibited in our community may have its genesis in unaddressed multi-generational trauma.

I believe that an understanding of unaddressed multi-generational trauma in Bermudian families will be important to the development of alternative strategies that will assist in addressing family dysfunction, and reducing gang-related violence. As the Minister responsible for Youth and Families, I support the work that IAC is doing, and I commend its Chairperson, Martha Dismont, for her leadership in this area.

Shortly, I intend to table legislation in the House of Assembly to give statutory standing to the Bermuda Family Council. This will give the Council a more defined role in promoting the strengthening of families. I expect that the Council will recommend social policy and legislation aimed at addressing, among other things, multi-generational trauma and its impact on our society.

Thank you.

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Comments (14)

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  1. Accuracy? says:

    “However, it is fundamental for us to recognize that some of the anti-social behavior that is exhibited in our community may have its genesis in unaddressed multi-generational trauma.”

    Hello – Kevin Comeau – sorry we had to throw you under the buss like we did but we had to find a way to take the word ‘dis-function’ out of your description of the problem.
    Of course if we now acknowledge that the problem and it’s primary causes are valid we have to also admit that some of our behavior is also wrong and must be changed through the same healing processes proposed. This applies to us all of us – street thug to Gov Minister to trust fund beneficiary. Good luck Bermuda it’s going to be a long strange journey.

  2. Concerned says:

    Hog Wash – it is beacause there has been in families lack of love, commumnication and in those families that have hd these things, there has been a break down of both but no discipline and for those that have had all three, it is a serious lack of respect. There is “Family Curse” which runs from generation to generation. I could understand if that was referred to but don’t agree with the Ministers description. I remember hearing a lady say one time “The Third generation does not know JESUS” – in my house the belt’s name is “Jesus” – spare the rod spoil the child.
    Parents have to get away from “Material love” I want parent buys or gives in, parent askss but I want I want I want rules the roost. – TOUGH LOVE!! is still alive and well in many homes in Bermuda – it isn’t child abuse it is telling/enforcing your child/children the NOT IN MY HOUSE OR ON THE STREETS. How many can recall “Tough Love” in your home and are the better for it and others way down the road experience somethign and say “I wish I would have paid attention back in the day”. TOUGH LOVE!!!

  3. Kathy says:

    I don’t think we need a name for it…we know that we have social issues that go back many generations. We just need help fixing these social problems. Ignorance breeds ignorance and we have a LOT of this in Bermuda. There should be more focus by the government, by the schools, by the churches on curing the families and family relationships. Curing our social ills begins with the family and it will take MANY generations working hard at it to pull us out of the social problems we have today.

    • Concerned says:

      Kathy, the key words here are FAMILY and Family Relationships. As many many many of us knows – one hurt in a family tumbles down to future generations and thus the shooting/murder of one family that somebody years ago didn’t like their Poppa, Daddy, Uncle and the list goes on – IN HOUSE FIGHTING. Why? Because Moby what’s it did this that and the other to Uncle Smock and uncle Smock did this to Pa Jibbers why? we don’t know and because of that Jr didn’t like Farmer Sam and the list goes on with out sound reasons. Also, problems with Anger – look at the faces of our young people, especially young men going to and coming from court – ANGRY and what do they say about it when asked or listen to how they blame it on somebody else. Do our young people really understand Anger as a dangerous emotion or is it simply something to be because it is easier than figuring out how to be smiling and happy in themselves.

      The Family has to recognize there are problems and acknowledge them and seek help from a Pastor who they feel comfortable talking to, there is an Organization within Familiy Services I believe that can assist and if need be, if there is a child/teenager in trouble, they will work with that person and their families. And with Government cutting funding does not help at all – in order to turn our economy around and get those programs up and running again – they need to open the doors to Overseas companies and bring back the foreign workers and perhaps things will turn around. It all falls back in Government’s lap until they take serious steps to undo what they have done – more and more families will be collapsing. Can’t support your own people but yet Government is flying AWOL – this is a reason to be upset as they have diminished our Education System, after school care and homework programs, you name it and it affects our Young People – lack of employment, these children want to travel as well especially to further their Education and hopefully to return to Bermuda to find work – how can they when Government is spending Education Dept’s money on themselves and other Dept’s. As one person said “Selling Beruda’s Soul to the World”…. Their Slogan “Buy Bermuda”.

  4. Pastor Syl Hayward says:

    Too little, too late, Minister Blakeney! Those in the helping professions have been talking about this for decades, yet your government has underfunded, cut funding, and/or forced the closure of too many agencies that specifically addressed these and related issues for your statements to have any credence. Its all pretty, pretentious, $10 words to you, isn’t it, “sounding brass and tinkling cymbals” and signifying nothing.

  5. Future says:

    This is not a GUMMINT problem. It is the people’s problem and the people must solve it. Upgrade your culture.

    • Pastor Syl Hayward says:

      The GUMMINT, as you term it, IS the people and is responsible for the people’s business, which includes its mental and physical health.
      That is why it is the government who has ultimate responsibility for the hospitals and the prisons.
      Why would you think they don’t also have responsibility for the homeless and the dysfunctional.

      A responsible government provides at least SOME funding for homeless shelters and agencies to address addiction, teen pregnancy, orphans and other abandoned or at-risk children, teenagers and struggling families. The better part of their budget doesn’t go to salaries for civil servants and questionable “infrastructure.”

  6. Truth is killin' me... says:

    Ignorance is bliss..

  7. Tommy Chong says:

    So, is this the new excuse plp is using to cover up that they have set in motion affects that have pushed past & present generations into a corner of hopelessness in turn causing some to act out. All the while this government has allowed drug addiction, crime & racial mindsets to get out of hand. I’ll boil this down to more plp BS unless Minister Blakeney can point out the Multi-Generational Trauma that Jahmel & others born with silver spoon in mouth have experienced that turned them into cold blooded killers.

  8. Bermyman says:

    Isn’t Blakeney’s son in Jail for gang violence and attempted murder. He might not be the best person for the job if he can’t even keep his own house in order.

  9. Goose says:

    It’s been just over 40 years since segregation ended here, of course we are not on a completely level footing yet.

    But will we ever be on a level footing with politicians telling our youth that they will not amount to as much as a white man for reasons X, Y and Z?

  10. Keepin' it Real...4Real! says:

    jus can’t even muster the strength to comment here….smh