It is unfortunate that the newly-appointed President of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), Justice Adrian Saunders, has bowled off the beginning of his tenure with a wide ball.
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Missing the mark on violence in schools
The recent comments by the Minister of Education and, in fact, the recent comments by citizens as a whole are clear indicators of how far off we are from handling our nation’s youths.
Calls for them to be dealt with, labelling them and encouraging the full brunt of the law?
Might I remind everyone that they are still minors? Let’s start with the fact that they are minors. That means we should not be spreading videos with their faces clearly showing. So how about we stop the hypocrisy and show them respect if we are to demand respect from them.
Secondly, these boys came from homes. Where are the parents in all of this? Nowhere in the media reports have I seen the parents being brought in for questioning. Violence is a manifestation of something deeper. Bullying is a manifestation of things gone bad AT HOME.
Are they coping at school? There are enough studies to prove that literacy and violence go hand in hand. Maybe they are struggling academically? God knows we have a low detection rate for learning disabilities. Heaven help any child on the high performing end of the spectrum—their signs will be so mild that they will never be detected in our current system.
Are they seeing violence at home? Whether we want to admit it or not, we are numb to violence in this country, but it doesn’t mean the manifestations aren’t there. Constant shouting in the home, use of embarrassment as a technique for discipline, excessive licks in an uncontrolled manner—these are all contributing factors to a child demonstrating violence in school.
Parental separation—another home factor that needs to be considered. How close in the family unit?
How about instead of involving the Ministry of National Security, we involve the Ministry of Social Development—Family Services Unit in particular. Get this family some counselling. Not one-off counselling—years and years of it. Let a social worker go deep into the family history—deal with the hurts of the parents—go back to their own childhood and ensure that they are healed. Broken parents will raise broken children. We must seek to heal these homes from deep within if we are to see lasting change.
Is it easier to lay down the law on these boys—probably, but will it serve our country well in the long term?
Our social services budget is high in relation to international standards. It is time we use it to focus on long lasting solutions. Our nation’s violence won’t stop until each home is healed—until we remove our numbness to violence. Each home must be given the tools to face the demons of their past, so that they can effectively raise men and women who do not need policing to obey the law.
It is time we move away from needing constant supervision to do what is right. Our children must be raised to respect themselves and others. Love and respect must be the order of the day—from this every other societal benefit will flow.
MARSHA L RILEY,
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