‘Wrong hand’ dealt youth
Principal of the Government Industrial School, Erwin Leacock, says the challenging behaviour being seen in secondary schools across Barbados is not being properly managed.
Speaking during the opening ceremony of a High Risk Student symposium at Hilton Barbados yesterday, he charged that “we have used very harsh methods, and we [have] also used our ultimate weapon – dismissal. That doesn’t help the situation”.
Leacock said that in most instances, the small group of young people who presented the challenges were generally misunderstood. He also expressed concern over what he described as an emerging issue in secondary schools where the profiles of students sent to the St Philip institution had changed, with offences now being more criminally oriented.
“The age associated with some of these offences is also worrying. We can appreciate some of the challenges the schools will be experiencing within the school system, and we appreciate that what is happening is reflective of what is going on in the Barbadian society . . . . [But] we have to work together now in a more concerted way to address some of these issues.”
He explained that factors responsible for some of the youth’s behaviour included substance abuse, or children going through some “horrific experiences” from within the home, and not possessing the requisite coping skills to deal with some extremely serious issues.
“In a lot of instances what people see in the school system is not the real child but a child under the influence [of a substance] . . . . Some decisions they make lead them to come into contact with the justice system,” he said.
However, Leacock said there needed to be a comprehensive approach in dealing with the issue.
He encouraged those present not to run away from the problem, but to stay and deal with the issue. “If you are not trying to engage the young people now, they will come back at us in much more dangerous terms,” he warned.
He maintained, though, that today’s youth was not a lost generation, but one which needed more patience and understanding from those around them. (BGIS)