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Need for a scientific study


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As would be expected, charges that some Barbadian secondary schools have become virtual hotbeds of lesbianism and gangs triggered a robust debate among the general public, as reflected in the Press and on the radio call-in shows in particular.This discourse can be said to have been far too heavily characterised by a torrent of instant analysis, based for the most part on emotionalism and morality and on little or no empirical evidence. As a result, while the public discussion seems to have abated now, it would appear to have thus far generated much more heat than light, with the community being no better educated about these issues.While the matters ventilated can understandably appear to threaten the integrity of our education system, which plays such a key role in our institutional life, it does not and should not mean that the society as a whole should settle for a knee-jerk reaction to them, and thereby thrash about in search of instant solutions.As a matter of fact, the society’s reaction should be the exact opposite with a well considered effort being made to examine the issues in as factual, objective, calm, dispassionate and professional a manner as possible.That is why we are submitting that our society would be far better served if these allegations of widespread school-based lesbianism and gang formation were to be subjected to the rigorous scrutiny of scientific study, an exercise which admittedly could take at least a few weeks to be conducted and its findings analysed.But at the same time, the Barbadian public would be assured of the findings of a probe that would be better able to determine the true nature, extent, causes and influences behind these reported phenomena.The harsh reality is that Barbados cannot afford to base its national response to them by relying heavily on large doses of anecdotal information, or evidence not obtained through universally accepted social science methods. To do otherwise would be to run the very real risk of proceeding along faulty, skewed and scientifically unsound lines in what is done from hereon.  It is well known that where conducting social investigation is concerned, a major factor is that major differences in the outcome are influenced by the methods adopted in relation to the manner in which the survey is structured and administered and the types and quality of interviewing and other information gathering techniques employed, and even the wording of the questions asked. Any remedial action eventually adopted can be flawed and ineffective if it is based on information, conclusions and recommendations that are in themselves defective, inadequate and inappropriate. Thus the need for  proper scientific evaluation. If such a study is not done effectively, the net result is that any problems which exist could become aggravated, because the core causal factors would not have been properly addressed.