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Thwaites apologizes

29-01 PAGE 29We have much regard for Education Minister Ronald

Thwaites and he has grown even further in our esteem this

week by apologizing for the way he handled the police survey

of incarcerated criminals and the schools

they attended.

It is quite noteworthy that, in tendering his apology

on Nationwide Radio’s This Morning show,

Mr Thwaites said that he had not meant to shame or embarrass

any of the schools named in the survey, and he underscored

the fact that he ought not to have made such an error given

his experience in the communication media.

To us, the real tragedy in how the announcement

was handled by the minister was in the fact that it drew

attention away from the crucial issues addressed by the

survey, which have to do with our children who leave

school, not to be productive citizens, but to end up in

prison. This is what we sensed from Mr Thwaites’ travails.

But, as a deacon of some standing, he knows only too well

that the way to hell is paved with good intentions.

Naturally, we need to join the principal of Norman

Manley High School, Mrs Adaire Powell-Brown, in scolding

those of us in the media who rushed to describe the survey’s

contents as “crime schools”, seeing it not for the tragic nature of

its message, but as a salacious story that sells.

Too many of us, if truth be told, are content with skirting

around the edges, tilting at windmills, rather than confronting the

issues, difficult and painful as they frequently are. A huge segment

of our school-age population is in dire straits. The solution

appears to be somewhere off in the distance.

And, as if to drag us back to reality, news followed this week

that some of our girls in uniform from a rural school were caught

in an infernal video splashed across the Internet for all to see,

in lewd sexual acts with a man or men, clearly of ill repute and

reprobate minds.

Let us rap Mr Thwaites on the knuckles, but let us not crucify

him, because there are far greater and more abundant fish to fry.

If only our schools could stand in the way of the creation

of criminals, some in the police force, then National Security

Minister Peter Bunting would not have to be planning to spend

scarce resources on body cameras to help prevent unlawful

killings by cops.

We are also in agreement with Opposition Leader Andrew

Holness’ call for greater use

of closed circuit television,

which is wider than just

going after the police, as

part of greater reliance on

technology in the fight against crime. For sure, there are going

to be claims that we don’t have the money for it, but very often

the use of technology can lead to savings in other areas. For

example, the use of CCTV can mean that fewer bodies have to

be deployed on the streets.

On this score, however, we are pleased to see the

bipartisan support that has emerged. We have called

consistently in this space for matters of crime fighting to

be taken out of the political arena and we hope that this

is a beginning.

(Jamaica Observer)

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