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During debate on the Police (Amendment) Bill 2017 in the Senate last Wednesday, Senator Alwyn Adams is reported to have made strong statements about the public service vehicle (PSV) culture in Barbados (ZRs Slammed – DAILY NATION, Thursday, February 1).
He described it as “one of the major social concerns” in Barbados which have become “embedded in the psyche of young people”. Declaring that PSVs had a corrupting influence on the island’s youth, he cautioned that unless something, other than talk, was done, generations of young people would continue to spiral out of control, with major impact on the crime situation.
Senator Adams did not go far enough. The PSV culture is merely one of twin axes of evil deliberately engaged in corrupting Barbadian youth. The other is popular media, notably some of our FM stations. Indeed, it is precisely the music channelled by PSV vehicles from these hot FM stations that is responsible for youngsters choosing this mode of transport even when public service is provided free of cost.
Even when not in PSV vehicles, you will see scores of students on the way to school on mornings with ear-buds in ears, gorging on the low-quality froth that is the hallmark of some stations. Radio stations, with a licence to broadcast, have a powerful influence on minds and thought processes. Should they not also be required to commit to some basic level of quality?
I submit that if we’re serious about stemming the negatives affecting our young people, we should revisit, not only the PSV factor, but also the matter of radio broadcast material. Getting a licence to transmit should be married to some protocol about quality. This, of course, will cause media people to shout “censorship” and scream about media freeness. Understandable.
But when PSV drivers have now become fearful of students; when we are now forced to commit 16-year-olds to Dodds; when we have students taking weapons to school and using them to draw the blood of schoolmates, we should appreciate that it cannot be business as usual.
Just look at what is happening to our Caribbean neighbours Jamaica and Trinidad, where lawmen are at their wits’ end to maintain control on crime.
A relatively simple start might be getting a gentleman’s agreement from all radio stations that from sign-on to about 9 a.m., no “rowdy” music should be played. In fact, it should not be difficult to find educational or inspirational material to air during this time.
Boring? Doesn’t have to be. The same Bajan ingenuity that makes “shout-outs” so popular could conceivably make a Kamau Brathwaite poem at least interesting. Try it, nuh.
– TREVOR R. SHEPHERD