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Do more than abolish the shift system

Published:Monday | October 6, 2014 | 12:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir: I wish to endorse Leighton Johnson's call for an end to the shift system in our schools.

Johnson, principal of the Muschett High School, made the call following the gruesome murder of one of his students, 13-year-old Aliesha Brown.

Brown, who went missing on Monday, September 29, 2014, was found dead near the Stewart Castle Great House on Wednesday, October 1, 2014.

Her death has reportedly cast a pall of gloom over the community, and has sparked further criticism of the shift system.

Unfortunately, the sole implementation of Mr Johnson's proposition may not be adequate to materially curb these heinous acts against our children.

Even without a shift system, there are students who have to commute from far-flung communities to school. Many of these children do not have the privilege of being 'chauffeured', and so they usually have to walk many miles and risk their lives on dark and treacherous roadways.

Therefore, I am further appealing to community members to become more vigilant. Let us return to the 'old time' Jamaica when everybody joined hands and hearts in protecting our children.

If possible, transportation may be arranged for students travelling from remote areas. Perhaps now is the time for some of the school-owned buses to make a few trips in the early mornings.

Additionally, students may walk in groups to and from school. Parents and guardians may also work together to stand guard at strategic points in order to ensure their children's safety.

Moreover, we must warn our children against accepting rides from strangers and entertaining people whose intentions are expressively inappropriate.

Form teachers may also be tasked with reporting daily absences to parents. This may be done by making phone calls or by sending emails or text messages. Untoward happenings may therefore be detected very early and the necessary actions taken.

While we endeavour to do the aforementioned, let us also strive to establish a close-knit relationship with our children so that they can comfortably report any inappropriate advances made at them or any threats made against their lives.

We must be prepared to launch a combat at every angle to safeguard our children.

Shawna Kay Williams

Atlanta, Georgia