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AWRIGHT DEN: Spare the chain

Corey Worrell

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ON MONDAY I learnt of an alleged incident that took place on a school bus outside Coleridge and Parry: a schoolboy stabbed several times by another.
This behaviour has been going on in schools for years, and I believe it has escalated significantly over the last ten.
There are students who would rather not go to school for fear of being bullied, taken advantage of, or harmed.
And the time is coming when teachers too will fear going to school, and then the education system will lose many gifted tutors – due to the rise in violence.
I have heard of teachers and principals being attacked and beaten by students. I have heard of schoolchildren throwing “acid bombs” in classrooms filled with students.
I have heard of junior and senior girls being fearful of going to the bathroom at lunch, because lesbians at the school hold girls against their will and sexually assault them.
I have heard of teachers at a certain secondary school having to park their cars on an adjacent property and walk back to school for fear of children vandalizing their vehicles.
I told my wife last year that we needed to discuss where our children would be educated. I also told her that I am not comfortable sending our children to any of the Government public schools, whether primary or secondary.
I also told her we needed to position ourselves financially, so if our children had to be sent to private school, we could afford it.
There is violence and abuse within families, within the communities and within the schools. For the time this has been going on, I am not convinced our leaders took this development seriously. Irresponsible and unprincipled parents, a failing and irrelevant education system and unhealthy perceptions and ideologies are three main contributors to this rise in violence.
I am not a historian; neither am I a certified philosopher; however I am an observer and a thinker. Based on my limited knowledge of the “slave era”, our forefathers were controlled by use of “fear, force, verbal abuse and pain”. Slavery was abolished in Barbados in 1834, 177 years ago; yet in 2011 we Barbadians still utilize “fear, force, verbal abuse and pain” to control and instruct our children and each other.
Can you recall how you were disciplined as a child? Now take a look at how you as a parent discipline your children. Take a look at how teachers and principals get/got children to follow their instructions. Take a look at how we as individuals and adults handle our differences, disappointments and hurts.
Do you see any relationship between these things we do and what the slave masters did to the slaves?
Slaves were whipped as a measure of control and discipline; so we whip our children to control and discipline them. Slaves were shouted at and abused verbally causing them embarrassment in order to get them to follow instruction; and we do the same to our children and each other.
We have been liberated from the shackles on our wrists and ankles, but the shackles on our minds have still remained. This approach was lodged into our minds and has followed us like a curse through the generations.
I currently teach at a private international school here in Barbados. I have only been there for one term and in that time I have not witnessed a single fight or “cuss-out”. These children are not whipped as a means of discipline; they are not verbally abused to be instructed; fear, force nor pain is used as a measure of control, yet they respect and are obedient to those in authority. The school has an atmosphere that is conducive to learning, and the children relate to each other well and are open to correction from adults and peers.  
What was shocking to me is that the school requires all children in secondary school to have a pair of scissors and a permanent marker with them at school each day.
I have not seen one single desk, wall, window or door defaced, nor has a child used their scissors for anything other than cutting paper.
In 2006 before I moved to Australia to serve and train as a missionary and youth worker, I wrote a song called Anything You Fear, I leave you with the words of the chorus: Anything you fear will control you, and any man you fear has ruled over you.
?• Corey Worrell is a former Commonwealth youth ambassador.