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Posted by:Mar 9th 2008, 05:58:28 pm
Fig Tree News TeamDoes anyone have minutes from the last Parent Teachers' Meeting at the All-Age School?

Dunmore Grouper, Fig Tree News Team editor-in-chief

Bahama Pundit

March 08, 2008
The Bahamas and Crime

First published in The Tribune on Friday, February 8, 2008 under the byline, Young Man's View.

POORLY socialized Bahamian students are terrorizing our schools, their classmates and the average citizen, and wreaking havoc on our nation’s educational institutions.

These days, schoolchildren are contributing to the wave of criminality and brutality that seems so unlike the quiet and tranquil Bahamas that my grandparents always reminisce about.

School violence, once primarily associated with New Providence’s inner-city public schools (less affluent neighborhoods), has transcended geography and become a national problem.

Having taught at two high schools, I can attest to teaching classes that contained a high proportion of violence-prone students who seemed to have been suffering from “combat neurosis.”

Amidst a mixture of supposedly experienced educators and the Minister of education, a young CR Walker student (Abraham), who sat on a panel to address school violence, offered the most thoughtful responses. The televised event was an unsatisfactory experience!

In order to curb school violence, we must examine a child’s immediate environment/neighborhood and account for the influence of obstreperous peers. Furthermore, the indiscipline at home, the failure of parents to teach manners and ethics, absentee parents and the unimpeded access to mediums such as uncensored TV shows and websites (even video games) that glorify violence all contribute to the sadism occurring in our schools and in wider society. Generally, there is a lack of discipline pervading our society, and that can only lead to antisocial behaviour and outright belligerence.

Our society is symptomatic of the problems faced in our schools. Recently released police statistics for 2007 show that the Bahamas is speedily becoming an anarchic state where violent crimes have skyrocketed.

On Tuesday, an intruder entered the compound of St Augustine’s College and brazenly stabbed a 15-year-old student. Last week, a motorist was attacked by scores of CC Sweeting Jr High School students, who hurled rocks and threatened to kill him after he nearly knocked down a student in front of Wendy’s on Thompson Blvd.

According to reports, up to 50 students had surrounded the motorist and were physically assaulting him. During the altercation, even McDonald’s staff was reportedly scrambling to lock the eatery’s doors before the fight trickled into the establishment. Purportedly, one student said that he had “marked” the motorist’s jeep, implying that they would remember the vehicle and get their revenge later.

Last year, students from AF Adderley Junior and the CI Gibson Senior High schools were stabbed on campus. In November, hordes of CC Sweeting and HO Nash Jr High school students had a brawl near the College of The Bahamas.

During that incident, the street was teeming with bottle and rock throwing students, so much so that traffic came to a halt. Again, like numerous times before, the students were taken to the police station but were they ever charged?

Our society has become so violent that parents are no longer discerning or respectful of teachers or the school environs. Of late, parents have assaulted students who have had disputes with their children or have entered a school’s compound with the intention of verbally and/or physically assaulting educators.

Teachers and school bus drivers are constantly at risk for becoming a victim of violent behavior, whether it’s meted out by students, their parents or a relative.

Will teachers and students soon have to purchase body armour to safely attend school? Will lawless youngsters soon begin to stick up churches? Beyond the top brass of the Ministry of Education’s (MOE) televised charade, will they ever have a serious discussion with the students and their teacher—who are on the frontlines—about the state of violence in our schools? And, while the politicians and high-level public officials are addressing school violence in public schools, how many of them actually have children that attend these schools? How many of them can give a firsthand account of the conditions at these institutions?

When I began teaching, I thought that I was thrust into an arena that was unlike my wildest imagination. Before adjusting, many new teachers can recall the adverse school environments that left them disaffected, experiencing symptoms of depression, having low self-esteem and being unenthusiastic about remaining in the profession.

Coupled with the adverse school environment is the presence of physically and verbally abusive students, an inequitable timetable that’s stacked with low stream classes of academically weak students and usually dumped on a newcomer, and feeble administrative leaders, who have caused many young teachers to become disenchanted and resign.

Several educators with whom I entered the field in 2005 have since resigned due to the grim conditions, dissatisfaction with the educational system, inability to cope with boorish students and in pursuit of a more lucrative career opportunity. Frankly, I intend to be joining them soon.

Today, teachers and many persons in the general public are calling for corporal punishment to again be placed in the hands of teachers, many quoting the adage: “If you spare the rod, you spoil the child.”

It appears that these individuals believe that corporal punishment could play a part in curbing the misconduct of unruly students.

Interventionary tactics must be employed to reduce school violence. The MOE must implement policies where teachers are encouraged to profile (ie, descriptive, demographic and/or psychological profiles) at-risk youths during their formative years, so that they can be placed in reformatory programmes.

Effective classroom management, good administrative leadership, enforcement of school rules and the setting high expectations for students are all zero-tolerance approaches to addressing school violence. I commend RM Bailey principal Julian Anderson for his valiant attempt to bring law and order back to that campus!

Aggressive, fierce pupils should serve time in juvenile detention and made to perform community service, with their parents being fined.

Children that are found fighting on school campuses or elsewhere, while in uniform, should not just be suspended but also confined for four weeks at a boot camp if it’s their second offence. Their parents should be fined for a third offence and, finally, imprisonment of both the child and the parent, in addition to a fine, should be the result of a fourth offence.

The MOE must again recruit truancy officers and observers, who would ensure that students attend school, infiltrate on-campus gangs, identify behavioral issues and implement policies to ensure that all schools are free of violence and the unauthorized presence of weapons. We must think proactively during these terrifying times and install crime-related surveillance at the school level.

During the past month, how many students carried a weapon on school property? How long will it be before a fanatical student takes a gun to school and goes on a killing spree much like the killings at Virginia Tech and Columbine?

Because males are more likely to bring weapons on campuses, they are usually closely scrutinized at school gates, more so than females.

This is reckless profiling, particularly since female students carry weapons on campus for feuding males and can themselves be vicious. I recently heard of a female student who fought a police officer and of another who stabbed her schoolmate in the neck with the sharp end of a styling comb. Metal detectors would be a most valuable commodity in the fight against school violence.

Motivational speakers, such as my friend Clement ‘Singaton’ Chea, who’s life story should inspire disorderly students to straighten up, should be invited into schools to address students.

In a riveting session at the SC McPherson Jr High school, I watched as Mr Chea had students transfixed, as he blended music and a motivational speech featuring youthful lingo that reached the youngsters present. Mr Chea, a former gang member who was convicted of murder at age 16, has since reformed his life and become a gospel artist.

It is also incumbent upon parents to assist in seeking to reduce the risk of violence. Parents can foster discipline by attempting to respectfully find out all angles of an account their child may bring and seeking to meet with the school’s administration/teachers rather than plotting to attack teachers or barging on to campuses.

Parents must instil values in their children, be open and attempt to assist with resolving their child’s problems at home. Rules are rules, so parents should abide by them and train their children to adhere to rules governing the uniform code, their behaviour and their conduct in wider society. Parents, teacher and community stakeholders must all teach students to practice conflict resolution and anger management skills.

In further reducing violence at schools, we must encourage students to report crime to an administrator and/or the police, discourage misguided loyalties to wayward peers, detain students who skip school/classes and discourage (fine or arrest) students in uniform from going downtown unless they are accompanied by a parent/guardian.

The outdated national curriculum must also be revised, Bahamianised and modernized to facilitate a new generation of students. The revised curriculum must be more student-centered.

The MOE must also implement programmes to encourage more males to enter the educational arena. Whether they do it via financial inducements, scholarships or recruitment, the educational system is in desperate need of more male teachers/role models. Further, the ministry must ensure that security officers undergo specialized training procedures!

It takes a village to raise a child, but Bahamians seem no longer to care about values and morals and pass on these ideals through the generations.

More and more, Bahamians are being seen as only being concerned about material possessions, wealth and the other "comforts" and pleasures of life. Is there any wonder why our nation's youth are the way they are?

As a community we much work as a unit to overcome this crime surge. Undoubtedly, if the state of our society continues in this gloomy direction, we will soon find ourselves with a devalued dollar, in search of another number one industry and having to resort to arming ourselves to ensure our protection.

At this rate, it seems likely that some vigilante would take justice into his or her own hands in an effort to rid society of its menaces!
Posted by:Feb 10th 2008, 06:44:58 pm
Unfortunatey I was unable to attend the PTA meeting held today but would appreciate it if anyone can update me on what was discussed. Thank you

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