EDITORIAL: Facing up to degrading behaviour
There is that seeming sense of despair over recurring incidents of bullying in schools, both in rural and urban communities.
In Trinidad and Tobago, the problem appears to be even worse with multiple reports of rapes and violence involving schoolchildren, and even as that CARICOM neighbour remains under a state of emergency to combat a criminal epidemic.
Latest report out of port-of-Spain Sunday focused on four students, between 15 and 17 years, who were due to appear yesterday before a magistrate to face charges of collective raping of a 13-year-old girl. The accused and victim of the heinous crime are students of the same school.
Here, current depressing reports of the bullying syndrome have come against the backdrop of earlier and more painful incidents about sexual molestations of little boys by other students on school compounds during school hours.
Parents, grandparents and guardians of an older generation, in reflecting on behaviour patterns in a declining social environment, are heard to be asking, rhetorically, in agony, “what curse has befallen our schoolchildren?” Or “what’s gone wrong with the nation’s education system?”
The agonising questions are appreciated but, sadly, there are no easy answers, no quick-fix solutions. This nation, like other CARICOM partner states, must face up to the harsh challenges of the negative consequences of a systematic breakdown in our social and cultural environment that’s heavily influenced by foreign lifestyles for which we are currently paying more than monetary cost.
This is not idle or expedient moralising. This is an attempt at facing up to the realities of a breakdown in family life where rudeness and contempt for parental discipline have for too long been tolerated – particularly in homes where both fathers and mothers often place more importance on their work and social agendas to the detriment of quality time with their children.
There are homes where established religious and cultural values are respected and not conveniently mocked and where children come to respect discipline and appreciate the warmth of love of parents and guardians.
For their part, the Ministry of Education and principals of schools should extend their concerns by critically and speedily reviewing their own separate and collective roles to mitigate, if not altogether stamp out, the criminal and degrading social behaviour that keep cropping up at our schools. This could be done within the context of a fresh national commitment to counter the decadent influences now causing so much pain to more than some families and schools.