Wed | Oct 17, 2018

Paul Wright | The children are our future

Published:Tuesday | November 14, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Clarendon College's Nicque Daley (right) and Dinthill Technical's captain Jason Lecky race for the ball in their ISSA/FLOW Ben Francis Cup KO final at the STETHS Sports Complex last Wednesday.

An interesting and important clichÈ, worldwide, is the statement "The children are our future." However, when one examines the reality of the life of a child, one gets the impression that adults just use words, as a cover for actions that seem to condemn our children to lives that are really for the pleasure and economic benefit of the same adults who profess to love them and want the best for them.

The abuse of children, worldwide, seems to continue unabated, while those caught abusing children are defended by so-called societal leaders who should be doing everything in their power to stop the alleged abuse, and to take steps to ensure that the abusers are denied the opportunity to repeat the offence.

In Jamaica, pastors who are accused of sexually abusing children are defended by congregants who cannot understand the fuss because "it's just a little sex".

In the USA, a high-ranking politician is accused of sexual impropriety with a 14-year-old child, and his behaviour is pooh-poohed because Joseph was an adult carpenter, and Mary was a teenager, and between them they produced Jesus. Forget the factual inaccuracy. The justification implied in that excuse is simply mind boggling.

For years, parents, sport journalists, and some medical practitioners have been complaining about the workload of children attending school, who, because of a particular talent, or skill, are better than the average child at sports. The lobby to reduce the workload of these children has been, in my estimation, relentless but with very little traction. As the sporting prowess of these children on parade attracts the attention of sponsors and international scouts, the cry "play more" becomes more intense and pervasive, as the frequency of the appearance of these children increases the economic return of those who pay for their gear, food, and support staff.

In track and field, the paucity of adults representing the country with distinction in international events, who were "stars" at Champs eventually led to the governing body of school sports, ISSA, to mandate an appreciable reduction in events that the nation's children could perform in the five-day event now known worldwide as Champs. As could be expected, there were howls of protest from those who perceived a reduction in their economic well-being from this reduction. To their everlasting credit, ISSA never bowed, and now, our children are spared the agony of mental and physical overuse of their frail and developing bodies.




This year's schoolboy football competition, urban and rural, has recorded results that can only be described as shocking and unusual, where teams of proven worth and skill are put to the sword and mauled by teams of lesser ability due to undeniable and medically proven facts of mental and physical exhaustion. When a quality team is required to play 90-odd minutes of football with less than a reasonable and medically prudent period of rest and recovery before the next game, defeat is the natural outcome.

One coach on national television reported that after a 120-minute game on a waterlogged field, his boys reported that they "couldn't feel their legs". And yet, social media and radio talk shows were awash with comments from adults, who, from their stated occupations, should have the well-being and interest of children at heart. These are adults who ridiculed the comments of medical experts with years of first-hand experience in dealing with injured children, who stated categorically that this action of requiring the team being discussed to play again in less than 48 hours could be termed "abuse".

Representatives of ISSA, while admitting that the schedule in the schoolboy football season, September to December every year, could be a trifle taxing on the boys, refused to even contemplate playing games in January or even to look seriously at dividing the schools in two tiers, with the last two finishers in the top and seeded group being demoted to the second-tier based on their performance in the year previous to its implementation. The top two finishers in the second tier group would consequently be promoted to the top tier the following year. The main reason for not advancing this idea: a school of lesser ability, or a "no-name school," would lose income that would be generated from entrance fees charged when a team of proven quality visits for a game, essentially sacrificing the health and well-being of our children on the altar of "eat-a-food".

We need to get back to the days when our children's health and well-being were a priority and continue to lobby and harass the JFF, ISSA, and various parent teachers associations, as well as other children's advocacy groups, until the well-worn cliche " the children are our future", becomes a reality.