Parents, teachers and students of the Success Laventille Secondary School paid tribute to their murdered schoolmate Joshua James with a silent protest on Thursday afternoon.
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Losing our way
It says something about the state of Trinidad and Tobago when 13,500 crimes against children are reported in approximately two years. Data suggest that for every report, an average of four other criminal acts against children go unreported. Children’s Authority Chairman Hanif Baksh says most of the acts are committed by parents or guardians. He’s right when he says it seems we “have we lost our way” because every media platform in this country reports stories of child abuse in one form or another, almost daily. During eight working hours, the Authority gets up to 30 calls and there are hardly enough resources to respond.
There was a time in this country when beating a child, a slap, using a belt or even a pot spoon, was not only acceptable, it was encouraged by the concept of “sparing the rod and spoiling the child.” Getting “licks” was commonplace. But the definition of violence against children has widened and abuse now extends to criminal acts too horrifying to detail.
Teaching a child from an early age that physical violence is okay “under certain circumstances” must be revisited, because in a culture like ours, it seems the concept has gone too far. At what age is it still acceptable for a parent to beat a child and at what age will that child turn his or her own anger onto another human being?
Better safe than sorry?
In an environment where threats of terrorism must be taken seriously and Trinis linked to ISIS are telling their families they are alive and well, the detention of over a dozen people allegedly connected to a Carnival terror plot proved to be a miss for the police.
Media reports indicate that all 13 people who were detained have been released and two who were charged for possession of a firearm “component” have been granted bail, but will still have to be compensated by the police for the lengthy detention without charge.
While the office of the Commissioner of Police figures out where it will find the money for similar suits, let us recognise that the police are walking a fine line between being embarrassed for inaction and acting without adequate evidence. Both scenarios cost lives, money and time.
It’s good to hear that TTUTA and the NPTA are pledging to address the issue of school bullying. It’s good not just because increasing numbers of students are coming home with injuries and social media videos detail how vicious the clashes can be, it is also good because bullies grow up. And grown bullies are doing this country no good.
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