Images of heavily tinted 'party' buses pounding with X-rated music for the entertainment of truant students have become the visible expression of an increasingly lawless society.
The challenge for the police is to deal with the truancy of students as well as the illegal activities of bus operators who have reportedly disguised sound-system devices in their vehicles and are alleged to be serving alcohol to the students while facilitating sexual activities.
As amazing as it may sound, this is not a new problem. As far back as 2010, media reports identified the immoral conduct and social indiscipline being played out on some privately operated buses in the Corporate Area and parts of St Catherine.
These activities have taken root and have been spreading under the noses of the men and women of the Police Traffic Department. One must further question the vigilance of the Traffic Department when bus operators can be found to be holding multiple tickets for violations and are only 'discovered' when they are involved in a tragic accident.
But public lamentation and outrage are not enough to tackle the problem if we recognise that truancy and deviant behaviour can create tribulations for the society way beyond the high-school years.
Absenteeism decreases a child's ability to learn and is linked to the incidence of dropping out of school, which is itself associated with a whole range of problems, including crime, such as vandalism and shoplifting, teenage pregnancy, and limited employment opportunities.
Questions remain as to how to get these students to avoid the temptations of the modern-day culture that glorifies all that is lewd and outlandish. And we ask ourselves, how can this be accomplished without drastic action?
Perhaps it is time for the country to introduce robust truancy laws that will seek to hold parents and students accountable for absenteeism. Such laws would stipulate how many days a child could be absent from school with explanation before it becomes a police matter. Schools should be made to report unexcused absenteeism. We ask the minister of education and his advisers to give this some urgent thought.
The latest incidents have provoked a national debate about the lack of a value system within the next generation, which is threatening to worsen a moral crisis. The country needs to take a hard look at itself, assess what exactly is wrong with our society, and plot how we can fix it.
We also need to examine the students involved in these acts to find out what is motivating them to develop such deviant behaviour.
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