THE EDITOR, Sir:
I AM deeply concerned about the levels of violence and aggressive behaviour among our students.
Violence exists in our schools, in perhaps all our schools and in a way, we probably are too afraid to admit. Like the national statistics, many cases are simply not reported. Cases of fights involving various weapons occur on a daily basis. Weapons may include anything such as knives or ice-picks. The principal's office is kept busy throughout the day.
Our children are angry, very angry. They are angry because they feel abandoned. Many of our children have been left to fend for themselves because their parents are not home. They will shortly become the lost generation. Their parents reside in the United Kingdom, in the United States, in the Cayman Islands. Some do not even know where they are, and who they are. Many walk with cellphones and that is their only point of contact. They wait for a call from mom or dad. The cellular children are here to stay. They are unstable, they are lonely, they are angry, their parents are not at home, they are in distant lands. Of course, some parents are home, but just cannot manage or simply do not care. The teacher has all the answers.
Some of these children have spent short periods abroad and have been told they will rejoin mom and dad or both as soon as they finish school. And so, they have finished school, for in their minds they are merely occupying a waiting area until the day of departure comes. For some, the departure will come in one year's time, for others it will be two or three or even five years time; for others, that day will never come.
CHILDREN ARE ANGRY
Our children are angry because a parent is dead and they were not properly counselled through the period of grief; they were expected to carry on with their lives with a void that has never been filled. The empty space, they cannot handle, they therefore fill it with anger, some with resentment, some with a mission to get attention by any means possible, some could not care less whether the world is turning or not.
Drugs abound in our communities all over the island, and are readily available to our children. School children are lucrative clients for small drug peddlers. Many of our students especially our boys are using substances, we know not what. One thing is sure; the minds of many are altered. Schools without perimeter fences have all the avenues and alcoves and secret spots where boys can gather and use ganja or whatever they choose and return to class after lunch, ready to battle with peers or teachers, or just to fall asleep on their desks.
They take drugs in their bags, in their shoes, in their pockets, wherever they feel it will be safely hidden. Too much of the teaching/learning time is spent solving issues between children and children, or children and teachers. Is it any wonder that larger numbers are left behind if they survive for five years in school?
The carrying of knives by some students is a major concern for all schools. It is fast becoming a tradition in every kind of school. Recently, I learnt that a huge knife was taken from a grade six boy in a small primary school. He was angry and had threatened to stab a boy whom he considered a bother to him. Knives are hidden in secret spots along the way by those who walk to school in the rural areas. They retrieve them for fights after school.
The safe school programme is an excellent concept and will bear fruits if the officer assigned will take up a position on the compound on a daily basis. Parents and guardians must begin to exercise greater levels of interest in their children, and visit the school plant more often to see how their children are performing. Some only go when they are sent for. They must know what they are taking in those bags, they must be made accountable. We must save our children, and the day of salvation is now!
I am, etc.,
Winston Jones High School