Don’t blame the PSVs!
This stern warning has been issued by President of the Barbados National Council of Parent Teacher Associations (BNCPTA) Shone Gibbs in response to a recent suggestion made by Magistrate Graveney Bannister that school children should be banned from travelling on private public service vehicles, including minibuses and route taxis.
While stating that Bannister’s position was not only impractical but misguided, Gibbs was insistent that bad parenting and not the PSV culture was to blame for recent worrying acts of violence among children in school uniform.
“It is not practical because the [Government] does not have the service to adequately respond to the needs of our school children and adult commuters, so they would need to engage [the private] PSVs from time to time,” said Gibbs, in response to Bannister who called for children to be forbidden from riding on PSVs following a recent case in which a 15-year-old boy was charged with wounding a minibus conductor.
Just last week a secondary schoolboy was also stabbed multiple times during a fight on board a school bus. This came on the heels of last month’s incident in which two secondary schoolboys reportedly hurled rocks at each other, injuring an 11-year-old Princess Margaret schoolboy who was travelling in a bus in the process.
In light of these incidents, Gibbs is contending that the violence being exhibited by school children is a reflection of what they are seeing in the wider society.
“School children mimic what they see in the wider society and we have all recognized that there has been an increase in violent behaviour across the island, so the schools have not been spared from that so we have to address that from a societal perspective,” he said.
“We need to address the behaviour and not ban them from the PSVs because there is indiscipline in the schools, indiscipline on the road and indiscipline in the home,” Gibbs told Barbados TODAY.
While not dismissing the influence of the van culture on the youth, the president of the BNCPTA maintained that the breakdown starts in the home and he encouraged parents to foster trusting relationships with their children and to instill the right values and morals in them.
Also reacting to Bannister’s comments, President of the Alliance Owners of Public Transport (AOPT) Roy Raphael said Monday’s strike by Transport Board drivers was proof enough that the PSVs were crucial to the island’s transport system.
“Barbados does not have enough buses to service the number of school children going to and from school,” he pointed out, while arguing that violence and lawlessness were not synonymous with PSVs.
“It is not only [specific] to the PSVs, we have also heard of incidents [of violence] on the Transport Board bus,” Raphael said, while revealing that there were some students who were reluctant to travel on school buses because of the constant fighting that occurred on them.
“[The] Transport Board and PSVs should get together with the Minister of Transport to look at measures to see how they can create safety on these buses for the general public,” he added.
The Chairman of the Association of Public Transport Operators (APTO) Morris Lee also suggested that Bannister’s argument was nonsensical as the violence and deviance exhibited on the route taxis also occurred on Transport Board buses.
“Not only PSV operators are exposed to this violence, but the Transport Board runs the risk of attacks as well,” Lee argued.
“You can’t just use the PSVs as a scapegoat when there are so many social ills that are affecting the children,” he said.
The APTO chairman also explained that following the recent attack on a minibus conductor a number of his members had expressed concern that the victim was being painted as the perpetrator.
“They have expressed deep concern that while one of their own suffered as a result of a cutlass by three school children . . . the impression is conveyed as if it was the conductor that incited the violence, but the conductor was the victim,” Lee stressed.