It is almost beyond belief that during recent times, nearly all churches in the north of Barbados have been robbed of electronic equipment, fans , clocks, (no Bibles) etc. Even the Salvation Army has reported loss due to burglary.
These organizations which have dedicated their focus towards helping persons to improve their lives, make better choices, and feeding the needy in community, have not been spared that unwelcome visit in the darkness of the night.
Homes have been robbed of furniture from their porches and artisans of their expensive tools.
There was a time when church premises were seen and respected as holy and sacred territory and therefore off limits for the worst of our human practices. It was a place of rescue, refuge and safety for those in trouble. When did we change or lose that perspective? When did we begin to see the sacred place as a soft target to be visited in the darkness of the night, to be robbed of equipment necessary to facilitate its functions to community and those in need of its services?
Human life was and still is a very sacred commodity to be protected and treasured as an irreplaceable item of ultimate value. But that too is under threat as the robber now walks with weapons of destruction to take the life of anyone who intercepts them while carrying out their premeditated criminal activity. Has life become that cheap and so easily disposable? Or could it be that the fear of being caught and punished is no longer a strong enough motivation to resist the temptations?
Another very serious issue that needs our immediate attention is this. What happens to the many stolen items which seem not to be traced, found or returned? How are these items disposed of so quickly and easily, without a trace? Who is the worst enemy to society? Is it the thief who broke in and stole, the recipient or the final purchaser of the stolen property?
When I was in primary school and I came home with a pencil or book that was not mine, mother took me by the hand and carried me to the school to face the headmistress with the item, even if it was given me by my class mate.
I recall quite clearly coming home with a cut to the back of my head. When my father asked me to give an account, I told him that I fell. I was sure that that answer satisfied him. But that evening, Dad went into the village and enquired of my classmates about the story. To my great shame and discomfort, he returned home with the truth. I really did not fall. One of the boys threw a stone and I was injured.
From a very early age, the intervention of my parents in my life and childish activities taught me the importance of being truthful, honest, and responsible, along with expecting to be disciplined when necessary. Of course, I really did not always appreciate such interventions.
Now I know that current research and studies are finding that:“early childhood personality and childhood experiences affect the adult.” “That character is set by age three.” “That to correct wayward juvenile behaviour needs to start with preschoolers.”
Is there a connection between what we are experiencing in society and our parenting? Perhaps there is. Almost 43 per cent of households in Barbados are headed by single parents. Forty per cent of births are to women under age 20, with the youngest being age 13.
It has been established that our children are most vulnerable between the hours of 3 and 7 p.m. after they have been dismissed from school and are home alone without any or little responsible adult supervision. When that single mother returns home from work, tired and stressed out, there is no grandmother or serious and responsible fathering presence to assist in all of the mentoring, coaching and disciplining necessary to keep on track any one tempted to play truant and uncooperative.
With the increase in teen pregnancies adding to those unemployed or unemployable under 20 parents, many vital parenting lessons are neglected and bad habits arrive at school, in community and on the block. We have reached a point in our development when serious consideration must be given to include parenting skills in our educational system before secondary school graduation.
Our community centres must be included as training centres, along with churches and other catchment places for our youth. We need our men and fathers to take time out to be with their sons, be their friend, mentors and coaches.
Discussing the problem or politicizing it will not change the behaviour. Dodds is indeed too late to change entrenched unacceptable behaviours. “It takes a village to train a child.” That village must first be appropriately equipped and trained to do an effective job.