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EDITORIAL – A child’s right to safety as to knowledge

luigimarshall, [email protected]

EDITORIAL – A child’s right to safety as to knowledge

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My father never raised his hand to any one of his children, except in self-defence. – Fred Allen, American actor and comedian.
THE?TWIST in the observation of the now departed Fred Allen will provoke a chuckle, if not extreme laughter. Fathers generally are made of sterner stuff though; and if they never raised a finger, it is because they had no need to.
This is a circumstance all right-thinking people wish for: that their children are so trained that punishment – whether corporal or otherwise – is unwarranted and unnecessary.
Regrettably, the uncultured child in the school environment is becoming too noticeable, to the extent that the demands on his peers make them victims of bullying – a happening authorities hope would just go away.
Just last weekend, retiring teacher John Goddard declared that the reports of bullying at school were being overplayed, and that principals needed not be sidetracked by them, and should get on with the business of education.
Yes, we are for getting on with the business of imparting knowledge too, but in conjunction with a guaranteed environment of safety from the remotest incidence of bullying.
The police are reported to be investigating at the moment the case of a secondary school student being found with an offensive weapon in his bag: a knife, sharp-edged, no doubt. Word is the 15-year-old was carrying it for his own protection. But protection from what?
It would hardly be his teacher. More likely one or more of his peers.
This is not a scenario that one can overplay. Any one child – of any school – fearing for his life or limb is one too many. And requiring a probe, besides that of possession of a weapon, is the root cause of a student feeling constrained to secrete a knife in his schoolbag in the first place.
Mr Goddard himself might choke on the reporting of these incidents by the media and the possible tarnishing of the affected school. But it is not the fault of the media that bullying or the fear of it persists.
Not very long ago, Deputy Chief Probation Officer Ikin Alleyne spoke to the widespread incidence of bullying at both the primary and secondary levels in Barbados. He was most clear.
 “We do know that a lot of children are beaten up and threatened and bullied. Some students wait for the smaller kids outside the [school] and then take away their money.”
As we have said before, we cannot continue to live in a cocoon; bullying must be rooted out of every school. Fellow students being made the butt of teasing and shoved through the walk of shame can no longer be swept under the carpet.
Self-preservation is as important as knowledge.