All to blame
No simple remedy for crime, say educators
Two leading educators have joined the growing debate over rising crime, giving limited support to Member of Parliament for St Michael West Central James Paul who this week criticized teachers for displaying “a lesser commitment” to the service and allowing some students to “drop through the cracks”, resulting in social problems.
Paul told reporters on Tuesday that the education system must bear some of the responsibility for the upsurge in crime and suggested that some did not do enough to mould the personalities of their students.
Today, retired principal Matthew Farley warned there were no “quick fixes” and said the causes of crime were never simple to identify.
However, he agreed that the education system had to accept some responsibility.
“I don’t think there is any one problem that can be considered as being responsible for the situation with crime, gunplay and the spike in violence in the society. I don’t know whether there is any empirical evidence to confirm what Mr Paul has said, but clearly from my experience as an educator, the education system, to the extent that it is part of how we socialize our children, will have to accept some responsibility. [However] I don’t think everything should be laid at the feet of the school,” Farley told Barbados TODAY.
The former Graydon Sealy Secondary School principal said some schools had become innovative and found creative programmes for pupils, but in some cases it was not enough because “the students themselves are not well adjusted.”
“There are situations where children have been given opportunities that if they take hold of they need not go down a life of crime,” the explained.
He pointed out that no one group should be fingered to shoulder the blame for deviant behaviour, but the primary responsibility for children’s upbringing lay with the parents.
“Yes the school will have to take some responsibility but . . . parents I believe – and I am not going to lay all the blame on the parents – but I think that too many parents are shifting the responsibility for rearing their children on the schools, on the church, on everybody else, and when the children get into trouble then they look to blame other agencies.
“It takes an entire village to raise a child and if a child becomes deviant, if a child is wayward, I think there has to be a collective culpability if you want for explanations for this situation,” he added.
Farley’s position was shared by the principal of the Parkinson Memorial School Jeff Broomes, who lamented “ an unacceptably high level of deviance among young people” listing drug use and the influx of weapons as examples.
While stressing that there was “no one answer obviously”, the outspoken principal insisted the foundation began at home.
“The home has a role to play in it because I think in many cases there is a lot of absentee parents. The school has a role to play in it because we in schools tend to write off students too early. Our society and our leaders have a role to play in it because we have to insist on certain standards, on certain behaviours and expectations that we are not insisting on. People have to be told that societal rights are more important than individual rights,” Broome added.
Meantime, Farley blamed the society for allowing “our traditional values to go through the eddoes so to speak,” by holding on to north American standards and “this is [what] we are reaping now.”
“ I don’t think that there is only one solution from any one agency. I think we have to sit down and put our heads together and see how collectively we can find those strategies. It is not a quick fix situation that you can put your hands in a black box and pull out a trick and say this would solve the problem,” he said.