Amid recent criticisms of them, Minister of Education Ronald Jones has come out strongly in defence of mothers, whose children are before the court, accused of criminal and other offences.
In fact, Jones believes there is need for the entire society to be more empathetic and to be more sensitive to the pain these women are suffering, rather than coming down hard on them.
He made the appeal at the weekend saying many of this island’s criminally accused were children who had somehow fallen victim “to the predators out there in our society and in our villages”.
Therefore, he suggested that it was wrong to criticize family members – especially mothers – for supporting them, even after they have ended up in trouble with the law.
“Don’t criticize them, empathize with them, knowing that the agony that they feel is real,” advised Jones.
Responding to questions, which he said were frequently raised in the media as to why crowds, including many women, were usually found on the compound of criminal courts shouting greetings as accused persons passed on their way to the court house for trial, he said: “They’re down there [in the courts] because they understand that their children have gone astray, regardless of the work that they have put into them. But they cannot disconnect. They can’t cut the [emotional] umbilical cord,” he warned.
The outspoken Minister of Education, who recently found himself on the wrong side of the law for driving with an expired driver’s licence, stressed that the majority of those present in the courtyard were not there to get their photographs in the newspapers.
“They’re not interested in that. They are in pain because of the work that they have done, the sacrifices they have made,” he said.
In wide-ranging remarks at the 23rd awards ceremony of the Golden Travellers in the Ministry of Education’s Elsie Payne Complex on Constitution Road on Saturday, Jones also raised concern about the practice of littering.
“We are nasty people. We believe that we should throw everything on our streets or on some neighbour’s property.
“Why can’t we keep it clean now and we supposed to be these bright people in the world?”
He spoke of the litter to be seen in driving around Barbados, and referred to media reports of garbage being dumped on private property without the owners’ permission, while noting that through the years Barbados and other countries had been beset by mosquito-borne illnesses, such as dengue fever, Chikungunya and more recently, the Zika virus.
He noted that mosquitoes can easily travel within the luggage of visitors and Barbadians returning from abroad, but stressed that a clean and tidy environment made it difficult for the virus-bearing insect to multiply.
“Therefore we have as a people, as a country to focus. This is where I live and I need it to be clean. If I dirty it, who is going to clean it but we ourselves?” he asked, maintaining that tidiness was not the job of Government environmental agencies, but individual Barbadians.
“Not the SSA [Sanitation Services Authority], they don’t have enough workers up there. Not drainage, not NCC [National Conservation Commission], They’re doing other things.
“We have to ensure that we clean our environment ourselves,” Jones stressed.