Mon | Dec 10, 2018

We need to invest In discipline

Published:Monday | December 14, 2015 | 12:00 AM

I couldn't help but notice The Sunday Gleaner headline of December 6, 2015, 'Major slackness on a minibus - Students still 'lapping up' and 'getting down' on Corporate Area buses'. The authorities have carried out innumerable safety and discipline campaigns, but they are not sustained, and things go right back as they were.

I remember a campaign aimed at cyclists with no front lights and/or no rear reflectors who ride around at nights and endanger themselves and other road users. For a while, police stations boasted piles of seized bicycles, but that whole affair was short-lived.

And there was a repeated campaign to remove heavy tinting from public transport vehicles, especially buses. The debate about how dark 'darkly tinted' was went on for a while before the authorities succeeded in having the tints removed. Some rebellious bus operators went as far as to replace the tints with newspapers, and I used to call my police friends to report them whenever I observed that infraction.

But, as usual and as before, that campaign slowly waned, and now some buses once again sport dark tints on the widows and drive around without any interference from the weary authorities.




Then there was the rule that no loud or lewd music was to be played on public passenger buses. That rule has been resurrected countless times, and on each occasion, its lifespan is but the blinking of an eye. The usual hubbub, the hue and cry, the disgust and consternation give decent citizens and concerned parents hope that passengers, including impressionable young children, will be forever spared loud and nasty music.

Manpower was dedicated to imposing the rule, buses were stopped, music systems were seized, resolved lawmen swore to be relentless enforcing the law ... and then, with time, the enforcement imperceptibly faded away.

Then there is the practice of 'lapping up'. Girls sit in the laps of boys and men for mutual sexual stimulation in public. For them, the lewd music encourages and enhances the sexual atmosphere. Again, as usual and as always, ardent campaigns are initiated against this act but soon fizz and die out quietly.

Once again, bad driving, darkly tinted public transport buses, playing lewd music and encouraging sexual behaviour among children, are driving around unimpeded. Once again, the well-being, safety and lives of children and adult passengers are put at risk. Once again, indiscipline reigns supreme.

What bothers me is not just the immediate and obvious problems with such behaviour. I am deeply worried about the continued leaching of immoral principles into our society. I'm distressed that it has become the norm to disobey the rules and get away with it. Lawbreakers simply play along with the transient safety and discipline campaigns, knowing that they will soon pass, and they can continue their horrible practices. This continues until society takes umbrage to their bad behaviour. Then we go through the same song and dance again and again.




But, more important, I'm extremely concerned about the negative psychological programming that is being infused into our citizens, and especially into our impressionable young. What are we to expect from the future leaders and future adult citizens of Jamaica when their idea of 'the law' is something that should be broken if they don't agree with it? They are being taught to view discipline as a killjoy institution and a cat-and-mouse game.

Bus operators assert that their buses attract more passengers (especially hordes of 'schoolers') when they get to their destination quickly, block the sun rays with heavy tinting, and provide loud and lewd entertainment. It's a vicious cycle. Undisciplined operators attract undisciplined passengers who, in turn, encourage undisciplined behaviour, and so on.

Dangerous, dissident and selfish individuals are being allowed to shape the morality of our future citizens. Indiscipline is the gateway to anarchy and ruin. We must commit to significant and sustained investment in personnel and resources to uphold and maintain discipline within society or face a dismal future.

- Garth A. Rattray is a medical doctor with a family practice. Email feedback to and