EDITORIAL - Discipline critical

Why is the prospect of a well ordered and disciplined society, where laws are adhered to, so elusive?

From incidents on Public Service Vehicles (PSVs) to violence against one another, it is part of a cycle where our country seems willing to only look at the end result – the manifestation and not at the clues and the tangible evidence which were provided over a period of time.

Bad children or young adults do not just wake up and emerge as threats to themselves and others. They mimic actions and behaviours and react to images and realities which they face.

Too often, we in this society complain when those displaying this deviant behaviour show up in the court section of our newspapers.

However, we collectively choose to focus on the damage, whilst ignoring what has lead to the deviance.

Most often, we ignore the signs within our homes, families, communities. A child who is not taught discipline, inclusive of respect for things which belong to others, or does not know how to share with others, can be a red flag in terms of attitude. Attitude is a major part of the problem. The notion that actions do not have consequences is troubling within this society.

Telling a child under the instruction of teachers in primary and secondary school that if a teacher disciplines them to call a parent, because 'no one can hit my child', promotes a notion that the child can behave as he/she pleases.

Then parents go onto school compounds and abuse teachers physically and verbally in front of impressionable children. That weakens the authority figure in the eyes of those children, and breaks down the respect levels which are critical to the success of the school structure. Learning is not only about academics, but about the discipline and attitudes which are part of a well-rounded adult in the workforce....at least that is what we used to expect.

Many children watch what is going on in this country. They hear the statements that this country is about to fail. Pushing the notion that 'all is lost' or 'we are about to disappear from existence' presents a measure of hopelessness.

We in the media also have to be careful in what we portray to the public and look at the messages we showcase daily. We highlight 'bad boys' and those who are charged with major crimes are presented like celebrities in the news pages.

We accept that Barbados is changing before our eyes, but we have to fight back. We understand the reluctance of PSV owners to not allow schoolchildren on their vehicles.
The Transport Board has also indicated that they face issues as well. That is an investment. The fact that students would even resort to damaging property with no remorse requires swift and decisive action.

These actions have to be reported by fellow students and thereby send a message that it unacceptable.

Then the issue of violence. Students attacking other students in a gang-like manner is now the norm. The pack mentality, with the protagonists being urged on must be tackled by schools, police and finally the parents. Parents must take charge of their homes and the children before the State has to. Discipline is not something which can be sub-contracted. It is your responsibility and when you fail, we as a country see the sad by-products.

Barbados Advocate

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