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Just allowing our children to be children

That is not the way for young people to behave. It is not good for them; it is not good for the country; it is not good for anybody.

–– Governor General Sir Elliott Belgrave.


Actually, we aver, it is much worse for our youth if it becomes customary for them to be “fighting each other and attempting to stone each other on the streets, or on the buses”, as Sir Elliott Belgrave has warned against. The Governor General just yesterday was addressing students –– and teachers –– during a visit to Charles F. Broome Memorial Primary School at Government Hill in St Michael.

Needless to say, the Head of State’s words of caution and advice are as pertinent as ever to all school students of Barbados.

And it is no overstatement by Sir Elliott that the warring and consequent injury among students is “an awful state of affairs”. Indeed, additionally, it is blatant stupidity, born out of a lack of sense of responsibility and considerateness.

That is why it is so critical that parents, guardians –– and teachers too, quite beyond disseminating knowledge related to curriculum subjects –– recognize their role in instilling in their wards exemplary values and the practice of caring for others. That is why parents, guardians and teachers need, by repeated coaxing and example, to strip the minds of our youth of all this negative frenzy and ungainful agitation.

As Sir Elliott has made clear, school days are meant to be enjoyed –– not marred by greedy and selfish acts that invariably lead to violence and sadness. They ought to be times that as adults we can reflect nostalgically on the delights and exultations experienced in our relationships with schoolmates and teachers –– and Sunday School and church to boot.

Good memories are made of these!

We took special note also of Sir Elliott’s concern about Barbadian schoolgirls forcing their way into adulthood by engaging in “mature activities”. It is not unknown that encouragement is sometimes –– once too often actually –– given by unscrupulous hard-backed men for their very own gratification, as they live within the tacit acceptability in Barbados that 16-year-olds have the same rights as they do –– even to perversion.

After all, the laws of the country say the age for consensual sex is 16 –– in the face of the convention of acceptance of the legal age of majority and reason as 18. This has, of course created, much of a dilemma for our doctors, for exanple, when they are reminded that children ought not to be given medical treatment without their parents’ knowledge or permission until legal age.

If a child, 16, thus wants contraception, or to be tested or treated for a sexually transmitted infection, or would seek an abortion, chances are the doctor will not tell that minor’s parents without the express consent of the young patient. The physician might take comfort in the notion the 16-year-old fully understands the information requested and given, and the right decisions to be made.

Yet another doctor will go just as far as to persuade his juvenile patient to tell her parents or caregivers about her visit, or, at the very least, exact a promise from the child patient to consider it –– not wishing to rock the boat.

In any case, it is highly unlikely any doctor and his nurse or attending pharmacist will force the young one to confess to an unsuspecting mother.

Truth be told, the Laws Of Barbados do not explicitly state that physicians must never treat minors confidentially, without the knowledge of parents; nor do they state the doctors can.

Such situations grieve those of us who must witness schoolgirls being forced, or forcing themselves, as Sir Elliott puts it, into “mature activities”; who must endure such children being deprived of natural childhood.

The Caribbean is said to boast the lowest of ages of early sexual initiation in the world –– which is not by accident. Caribbean adults openly think sex, talk sex, sing sex, play sex, dance sex, even have sex before the very eyes of our children day in, day out. Wukking up, simulation of the sex act, is second nature to many of our young women, including mothers, and it is plain to us in Barbados on Kadooment Day especially.

Our Crop Over party music, regrettably for too great a part, puts rhythm to decadence. We do not condemn Crop Over per se; only the people who behave depravedly at the festival, setting an unsavoury example for the nation’s children.

In the home, some parents sit and watch blue movies, their tender offspring flanking them like glued sidekicks –– curiosity made to kill the cat.

We accept that parenting and mentoring are not always easy; but by the degree of our efforts we will either gain from or pay heavily for what we help our children to become. We still hold to Solomon’s wise counsel that rings yet relevant,
with which Sir Elliott’s advice is in consonance:

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. –– Proverbs 22:16.

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