We have much regard for Education Minister Ronald
Thwaites and he has grown even further in our esteem this
week by apologizing for the way he handled the police survey
of incarcerated criminals and the schools
It is quite noteworthy that, in tendering his apology
on Nationwide Radio’s This Morning show,
Mr Thwaites said that he had not meant to shame or embarrass
any of the schools named in the survey, and he underscored
the fact that he ought not to have made such an error given
his experience in the communication media.
To us, the real tragedy in how the announcement
was handled by the minister was in the fact that it drew
attention away from the crucial issues addressed by the
survey, which have to do with our children who leave
school, not to be productive citizens, but to end up in
prison. This is what we sensed from Mr Thwaites’ travails.
But, as a deacon of some standing, he knows only too well
that the way to hell is paved with good intentions.
Naturally, we need to join the principal of Norman
Manley High School, Mrs Adaire Powell-Brown, in scolding
those of us in the media who rushed to describe the survey’s
contents as “crime schools”, seeing it not for the tragic nature of
its message, but as a salacious story that sells.
Too many of us, if truth be told, are content with skirting
around the edges, tilting at windmills, rather than confronting the
issues, difficult and painful as they frequently are. A huge segment
of our school-age population is in dire straits. The solution
appears to be somewhere off in the distance.
And, as if to drag us back to reality, news followed this week
that some of our girls in uniform from a rural school were caught
in an infernal video splashed across the Internet for all to see,
in lewd sexual acts with a man or men, clearly of ill repute and
Let us rap Mr Thwaites on the knuckles, but let us not crucify
him, because there are far greater and more abundant fish to fry.
If only our schools could stand in the way of the creation
of criminals, some in the police force, then National Security
Minister Peter Bunting would not have to be planning to spend
scarce resources on body cameras to help prevent unlawful
killings by cops.
We are also in agreement with Opposition Leader Andrew
Holness’ call for greater use
of closed circuit television,
which is wider than just
going after the police, as
part of greater reliance on
technology in the fight against crime. For sure, there are going
to be claims that we don’t have the money for it, but very often
the use of technology can lead to savings in other areas. For
example, the use of CCTV can mean that fewer bodies have to
be deployed on the streets.
On this score, however, we are pleased to see the
bipartisan support that has emerged. We have called
consistently in this space for matters of crime fighting to
be taken out of the political arena and we hope that this
is a beginning.