Letter of the Day | Students have no business engaging in skin bleaching
The EDITOR, Sir:
The recent discussions about skin bleaching by students attending school serve only as evidence of the further deterioration of the moral and social fabric of Jamaican society. The issue is a microcosm of wider social ills, and what we are observing is the ‘trickle-down’ effect in high-school students.
Skin bleaching has now become the latest on the long list of disciplinary issues plaguing our schools.
Earlier this week as I listened to an episode of ‘Beyond the Headlines’ on RJR, the host and a guest engaged each other in a discussion about the issue and possible remedies. However, they did not appear to share the idea of dismissal from school as a remedial option.
School serves a unique purpose. It is not only an institution of learning and academic development, but of socialisation and the cultivation of discipline. Schools should seek to foster wholesome development and begin the process of students transitioning into the wider society, being contributors to society themselves.
But discipline is the enemy of our age. In this rights-based era, responsibility is almost always divorced from one’s rights. Students are expected to comply with the rules of any institution of which they are a part. In an effort to maintain its autonomy, schools must seek to remedy disciplinary issues as they see fit, obviously within the remit of the authority endowed to them by the ministry.
Students must learn that their actions carry consequences. It is a basic life principle that they would do well to take to heart. Of great concern would be the perception formed by other students when they observe how a student is disciplined when they, being in school, begin skin bleaching.
Dismissal has to be among the list of consequences, especially given the impressionable nature of adolescents.
If anything, a student who refuses to comply with school rules is making an early declaration of his disdain for authority. If the student cannot obey the rules that govern the institution to which he belongs, we have already lost the battle with not just discipline, but the student’s ability to fulfil the primary mandate of attending school: learning.
Students have no business engaging in skin bleaching, and schools must intervene and send the clearest, most unequivocal message that this behaviour would not be tolerated.
Among all the intervention initiatives that can be explored, it must include the home and bring in the involvement of parents/guardians, for it raises serious alarm that a student could bleach his skin while in the home and assume it ought to also be acceptable at school. So, yes, on a level of inclusivity, involve parents and any other stakeholder.
But I maintain that as an interim measure, should the school deem it the appropriate action to temporarily dismiss students who are bleaching, with the overall objective being to correct and resocialise the student, I for one support the school.
JOHN CONSTANTINE HENRY
Cedar Grove, Portmore