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Leave out the children

I can think of very few things more troubling than children being pulled into the crosshairs of an argument between adults. Arguments/conflicts between adults often have causes, reasons, nuances, subtleties, ramifications, consequences far beyond the appreciation, understanding and processing capabilities of children. And there is nothing unduly surprising, alarming or even regrettable about any such lack of capacity in a child.

Children’s inability to comprehend the complexities of such situations lies in their as-yet-not-fully-developed faculties of critical analysis of the entire context, their as-yet-not-fully-developed capacity for independent thought on an issue and their limited range of life-experiences which would enable them to properly assess a situation and/or the character of an individual. It has very little to do with the intelligence or the academic potential of the child.

The stage of limited development that is childhood in all dimensions – intellectual, physical, spiritual, moral, ethical – renders a child vulnerable to the superior capacities and abilities of more developed and experienced adults.

Vulnerability, wherever it exists, easily invites exploitation by those unscrupulous individuals who, for selfish gain and/or to attain some personal objective, take advantage of the limitations — imposed or natural — of another. It is ugly; it is unjust; it is unconscionable. And, unfortunately, it is undeniable.

Cognisant of this vulnerability of children – inexperienced, impressionable and dependent as they are – every civilised society has established laws specifically designed to protect its children from the abusive exploitation by adults to whom they may unwittingly fall prey.

It is in this context that any finding of the manipulation of a child by an adult is an extremely serious matter which demands prompt and decisive address to arrest the situation immediately. When such a finding of manipulation was found to have been perpetrated at a secondary school full of children, the matter becomes absolutely horrific, not to mention profoundly dangerous.

Yet, in spite of the finding of the Commission of Enquiry into the Alexandra School, for which we have paid in excess of $600,000 (when we could least afford it), I have heard absolutely nothing from our Minister of Education that would pertain to this very troubling matter. When there is manipulation of our children there really can be no silent witnesses. As the parent, I am very perplexed about this awful silence.

Are parents really to feel comfortable sending their children to such a secondary school? I certainly could not.

Isn’t sending one’s child to a secondary school where a clearly identified manipulator of students lurks not deliberately and recklessly putting one’s child in harm’s way?

Isn’t it the duty of a parent to prevent such? I certainly take it as one of my parental duties to protect my children from manipulation.

But, Mr Minister is silent. Fiddling? Jonesing?

And all the while student misbehaviour – for it can be termed nothing else – escalates, and the very dire situation at the Alexandra School deteriorates. Will it take a tragic physical injury to someone before the powers-that-be are forced into action? Why are we such a reactionary people?

This situation is simply untenable. Allowing an identified “manipulator” of children to remain is just unconscionable.

What are the authorities doing about this?

— Lionel James

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