Principals need to stop suspending students unnecessarily, contends youth activist Roger Husbands.
He has warned that many of these students get involved in unproductive activity when they should be at school.
“I am urging principals in the new school term to please rethink the suspensions,” said Husbands, who is the director of the Drug Education and Counseling Services (DECS).
He is opposed to the “sending home children every now and then for little things that could be dealt with at the school level”.
“Too many of our children are being sent home and some of them are happy to be sent home because then they get a chance to watch television and play video games, run ‘bout under the tree, run outside and go to the beach and all of those kind of things.
“I am saying to principals, especially, to be very cautious of that sending home that we are accustomed too,” he said.
His comments came during a press conference yesterday at the Bay Street, St Michael headquarters of the DECS.
Husbands, who deals with many delinquent youths, referred to him from schools and the court system, said all secondary schools in Barbados should have
a suspension room for troubled students.
“There is one school that I know with a tremendously great programme where they have a suspension room and instead of sending you home, you are suspended to that room and in that room you get counselling, you have classes, you have all kind of things in that room – which means that your behaviour would have to change because you ain’t going home and sleep. So the trick ain’t going to work anymore.”
Husbands also voiced his concern about troubled students being ignored throughout their years at school and sent through the gates as soon as they reach 16, with little or no qualification or direction in life.
“We [are] just sending them through the door and saying, ‘thank you for coming’,” he said
“There needs to be a treatment plan; something to help that child so that when it leaves the school what is next. Some guidance counsellors refer them to places like [The Samuel Jackman Prescod] Polytechnic and skills training, but some of those places are full.
He suggested that the guidance counsellors should sit with the children before they leave school at age 16 “and develop a treatment plan and an option, instead of just saying ‘goodbye, thanks for the time that you have been here’.”