A week after a disturbing video went viral on social media showing a male student from Grantley Adams Memorial School setting fire to the hair of an unsuspecting female student, Minister of Education Ronald Jones today appealed to this island’s school children to cut out the “foolish” pranks.
Referring directly to the incident at a bus stop, a stone’s throw away from the Blackman’s, St Joseph learning institution, and which has already resulted in a 15-year-old schoolboy being remanded to the Government Industrial School, Jones said: “One has to be saddened that even a careless prank could have these outcomes.
“What came through to me was that it was a careless prank and something that had to have been discussed before. We now have what could be termed as a catastrophe, in the sense that a youngster who thought it was funny to use a lighter to light the hair of a young lady, is in trouble,” Jones said, adding that “the young lady is also now damaged somewhat, regardless of whether or not she was seriously burnt.”
Last week’s incident was met with swift and strong condemnation from President of the Barbados National Council of Parent Teachers Association (BNCPTA) Shone Gibbs, who described the videotaped incident as “extremely disturbing” and nothing to laugh about.
“It is extremely disturbing and very concerning that in any form or fashion, whether it be serious or jokingly, that someone would attempt and carry out an act like that on another person, not understanding the ramifications and the seriousness of it,” Gibbs had told Barbados TODAY, adding that he wanted the full weight of the law brought to bear on the perpetrator.
Today, Jones was equally condemnatory, as he warned that such behaviour had no place in the school system.
“I think that foolish pranks must be eliminated from the school system because you can’t see these things as jokes,” the Minister of Education said while expressing strong concern over the entire incident appeared to be premeditated.
“It had to have been set up because persons recording doesn’t just pull out the phone when they hear the click of the lighter,” Jones said, while cautioning that “careless pranks can bring about disaster and our students must be mindful of the harm that they can do to others and to themselves”.
However, as on previous occasion when evidence of bad behaviour has surfaced in the education sector, Jones was again harshly critical of those he feels are harping on the negatives in the school system.
“There is again the issue of the public focusing on the negative in relation to schools even though there may only have been one or two isolated incidents. These things bring schools into sharp focus and then persons go into this frenzy as they do each time about how bad these young people are. However the reality is that you have to give the young people guidance and good encouragement,” the Minister of Education said.
“We need to guide these young people on a path that brings them fulfilment and builds self-esteem. In this system we need to constantly re-enforce the positive attributes and less of the negatives,” he added.