Zero tolerance of skin lightening, say principals
The massive and intense media attention schoolboy football has garnered recently has highlighted many aspiring young, talented players and has turned many into overnight stars.
However, these regularly televised schoolboy football matches have highlighted another fact: that the phenomenon of bleaching has engulfed our secondary institutions and their sports figures.
Its popularity with young people, especially those involved in sports, is a growing sensation, and The Gleaner sought the insight of a few high school principals on how widespread the phenomenon is in their schools among student athletes.
Holy Trinity and Cornwall College's principals, Margaret Brissett-Bolt and Dr Lennox Rowe, respectively, as well as Wolmer's vice-principal, Osagdoro Asayimwese, all declared a no-tolerance stance on bleaching and that student-athletes found bleaching were not allowed to represent these schools.
All three principals admitted that the phenomenon had infested their schools and they had to find ways to discourage it.
"My sportsmen and women wouldn't even think of it. They wouldn't be selected for rugby, football, netball - none. That is definitely a no-no, " Brissett-Bolt insisted.
Cornwall College's Rowe held a similar position. "My view is zero tolerance. We do not support it. We do not condone any type of chemical to alter the skin," he said. "We had students (bleaching) on various teams, and I outlined my stance that if they do it, they are not going to represent the school."
Wolmer's Asayimwese said they, too, have implemented rules to discourage the behaviour.
"At the start of the school year, the principal dictated to and informed the school community that there would be no tolerance for bleaching and where boys were found bleaching, steps were taken to have them have it corrected," he said.
Reflection of society
The consensus is that it's a reflection of the society and students are influenced into the bad habits by their immediate surrounding. But it is said to be generally practised by weaker academic students.
Brissett-Bolt believes that the schools can only do so much.
"First we had the girls doing it, then the boys. I have seen improvement, but during the holidays, they will bleach again and try to fix it before they come to school," she said.
Brissett-Bolt insists that the phenomenon is not irreversible but that it is now fully engraved on the minds of our young people. And although the authorities are doing everything to keep it out of the schools, it's not an easy challenge because of its acceptance in the general society.