“Parents need to poke their noses more into what their charges are doing,” Minister of Youth Stephen Lashley said today, while expressing strong fear that Barbadian society in general had become “a bit too liberal when it comes to how our school children, in particular, use the social media.
“That has to be curtailed,” the Minister said, while calling for more national discussion on a range of issues, including corporal punishment, and for leaders to take positions and advocate them “without fear or favour, even in a world that is becoming very liberalized”.
Lashley also blamed parents for what he termed a number of “shocking” occurrences involving this island’s school children that have been making the rounds in recent times.
Of particular concern to him are a number of video recorded fights involving secondary school children that have been circulating on the Internet, as well as images of adults gyrating on children during recent festivals.
“If we are going to applaud lewd behaviour on our street, if we are going to applaud an adult gyrating on a child during Kadooment and that kind of thing . . . then we are opening up ourselves to that big bang when we wake up and we are shocked at what we are seeing,” Lashley said, while revealing that, “I saw a video the other day with some minors, children, had to be below the age of ten, doing some serious provocative dancing and adults around them cheering.”
Another concern is the apparent increase in the number of young people appearing before the courts on criminal charges.
Just yesterday, there was also an 0uproar among some Barbadians following reports of strange and disturbing behaviour at some schools, after students reportedly played an increasingly popular game known as the Charlie Charlie Challenge.
Various forms of this game are also making the rounds on social media.
Speaking to journalists today on the sidelines of the Barbados Workers’ Union Youth Congress at Solidarity House, Lashley said it was the responsibility of parents to do more in setting boundaries for their children when it came to the use of social media and also in instilling moral values.
Admitting that he did not know what the Charlie Charlie Challenge was about, Lashley said, “It doesn’t matter what it is, if the flavour of the month is sufficiently strong to sway our young people towards them, it means that something is wrong in our homes”.
“The school is still a place for discipline. It is not a place for people to involve themselves in all kind of strange behaviour. We have to have a national discussion and national consensus on where we want Barbados to go,” the Government Minister said, adding that the island had “gone soft” on a number of issues.
He said while Barbados was signatory to a number of international conventions, “we have to ensure that our values and those values that have helped to make us who we are, still remain firmly intact”.
“Parents have to take quite a bit of the responsibility because parents are the ones who are in charge of their children,” he said.
“We have a number of occurrences happening that is of a shocking nature but they have an origin and we have to get back to those tried and tested Barbadian values that help to shape who we are as a people,” the Minister stressed.
He continued: “A lot of it has to do with our families taking back control of the situation. Our parents need to take full responsibility, and persons who are accessing the social media and doing it freely without any kind of supervision is also a problem,” he said.
Lashley also suggested that parents put checks on the number of fetes that young people go to, as well as put curfews in place for their children.
The youth minister said “very shortly” he would be calling for “a second national consultation on society” in order to avoid a significant economic cost later on.
“I think we are not facing the issues head-on. We are becoming too complacent and we are allowing a number of our young people to do what they would like to do without any type of controls,” he said, while urging the media to play a greater role in promoting the positives that young people were doing.