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    September 22

  • 08:05 PM

AWRIGHT DEN: Punish the parents

rhondathompson, rhondathompson@nationnews.com

Added 13 October 2010

I am shocked and disappointed to see dress and deportment within public secondary schools as an issue once again. From my years at secondary school in the 1990s up until now we still haven’t managed to solve this small problem. Let me say upfront that I am in full support of the principals of Garrison Secondary and Coleridge and Parry in taking their firm stand as it relates to discipline in their schools. I have had the privilege to teach in a public secondary school, and I know for a fact that when new students attend their orientation, one of the items discussed is the school’s dress code. I also know that at the end of every school year some schools send to parents letters reminding them of said code. This would mean that schools have done their part in informing parents of what is expected of their charges with regards to their deportment when attending school. Now that we have laid the foundation, let me share my opinion on the choice of discipline used for breaking the dress rules.   Any individual attending a public secondary school is considered a “child”. This would mean that such a person is under the supervision of, or the responsibility of, at least one adult when not in school. Over the years, the punishment for breaches of the dress code has been a sending home. This type of penalty was predominantly used to create some measure of discomfort for parents, such as their having to find someone to keep their children while away from school. This anxiety might spur them on to be more attentive and responsible parents. Back in the 1990s that may have worked, but in recent times we have seen a rise in delinquent parents; that mode of punishment seems to be very ineffective now. It has served its time. I strongly believe that students are not responsible; it’s the parents that should be punished for their children’s constant breaking of the dress code. They are the ones who purchase the uniforms and school shoes. I would even go further to say that parents should be made to pay a fine for each time the dress code is breached. Some may disagree; but I can guarantee you there would be a significant drop in the breaches. Many parents who question the dress rules have themselves gone to school and followed them – and it has done them well. Furthermore, they go to their places of employment and readily conform to the rules and regulations of dress without significant quarrelling. When adults apply for a job and are accepted, they know that they either comply with the rules of their bosses, or leave. I think the same approach should be taken in all schools. Parents have asked “what is the correlation between dress and academic performance”. I would respond by asking this: what is the correlation between dress and performance on the job? We complain about rules and their enforcement, but without rules there can be no development of character, nor can there be any order within society. Take a look at Singapore and see how the enforcement of rules has helped it to be one of the fastest developing countries in the world. We have so many rules in this country and so little enforcement of them. People still drive without seat belts; drive without a licence and insurance; park in No Parking zones; overload minivans and Transport Board buses; throw garbage through windows; smoke marijuana freely; and the list goes on. Yet, we travel to Canada and immediately conform to that country’s rules and regulations as it relates to littering, and more. Rules are not meant to be broken, they are meant to be enforced. • Corey Worrell is a former Commonwealth Youth Ambassador

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