Our schools surely ain’t holy ground
None other than a school principal has let it be known that it is “up to entities such as the media to cast a greater light on the positive things youth are doing and as such stifle the negative aspects”. This cannot be translated to be other than that the Press should not report on the vandals and violent aggressors –– and their hooliganism –– at school.
And surely this would be total irresponsibility, and a discredit to the victims. Furthermore, the Press or the media would be confederates to a crime, for certainly the pounding on the head of student by another with a piece of wood is a criminal offence –– unless possibly it is done in self-defence.
The striking of a teacher by a student is an assault. It is not a petty act or prank. It is a grave infraction. Targets are at risk of being crippled, paralyzed or killed –– in the school. None of this should be hidden from the public by the media, as Vere Parris, president of the Barbados Association of Principals of Public Secondary Schools, would suggest; nor should the media, being made aware of it, endeavour to cover it up.
We dread thinking Mr Parris’ skewed and contorted view on school reportage by the media could represent the position of the organisation that he heads.
“I believe that as a country we have to highlight the positives, so they are always in your face; so those who perpetrate wrong will not get into the limelight, as this in turn may spur them on,” says Mr Parris.
This is tantamount to the idiotic notion bandied about before that the Press should publish only “nice stories” projecting the “friendly smile” of courteous and loving Bajans, and ignore or sweep under the carpet acts of burglary, robbery and murder by the criminal and depraved among us, lest we keep the “tourisses” away.
We would be slaves to keeping up appearances and imagining what we would love to see as already happened.
Clearly, Mr Parris is living in denial, and his kind of thinking is more likely to spur on the potentially criminal element in our schools than the reporting of their insidious acts. These are a bunch hooliganistic students out of control.
Says Mr Parris: “. . . I see a lot of wonderful things youth are doing in our country every day. You cannot condemn the youth due to isolated incidents.”
First of all, we agree that many youths make good of their time and can be quite creative and productive. And in case Mr Parris didn’t notice, their deeds are quite highlighted in the Press in the various human interest and cultural and arts features published all week long every week.
Secondly, the uncouth and sometimes barbaric acts of school students are not isolated. They occur every day. That the same Press, which is being condemned by Mr Parris, does not report on every single incident does not negate the actuality and multiplicity of these crass and crude deeds of students.
School principals need to take a few spot check trips on the bus and minivan; stroll the streets leading from school sometimes –– preferably incognito, that they might have their demon of living in denial exorcised.
Barbados National Council of Parent-Teacher Associations officer Shone Gibbs, who obviously has his ears closer to the ground, recognizes we face the dilemma of inordinate violence in and after school –– and that it is not isolated.
It is so bad for him that the BNCPTA vice-president, whose organization maintains a zero tolerance policy on violence in schools, is now suggesting an expansion of the duties of the guidance counsellors and more anger management workshops. This may contribute to some alleviation of the savagery that takes place in school, but it certainly is not the panacea.
The questions are: what is it that students in our schools have to be angry about? Why does bullying and beating up others titillate them? More importantly, why do they feel they can get away with it?
Can it be they know their school will try to “stifle” the exposure of these assaults? The irony is principals have not themselves been exempt from attack by students –– and the students’ parents or guardians.
These young brats and their parents or guardians need to feel the full weight of the law. Their violent acts are criminal, to say the very least.
All those children who do “wonderful things” and ought to have “a greater light” cast on them by the media, as principal Vere Parris says, do not deserve to be in the same environment as these rascals who are causing all this mayhem, anxiety and anguish in our educational system.
In such a structure, teachers are themselves hard-pressed to do their jobs to the best of their abilities. Their security and safety remain at risk, giving cause to apprehension and mental disquiet.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education pussyfoots with the resolution to this national scar and scare. And the Government of Barbados immerses itself in the blindness and nescience of spokespersons like Mr Parris.