One of Barbados’ most prominent educators has delivered a sharp reprimand to people who believe that issues of crime, students’ underperformance and parenting challenges belong exclusively to those experiencing it.
Principal of the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies Professor Eudine Barriteau is warning that such attitude could lead to social implosion.
She has also cautioned those who have ‘made it’, saying this should never mean turning their backs on persons who are not family members or in their close circles.
The Cave Hill principal was addressing the 30th Anniversary Reunion of the Graduating Class of Ellerslie Secondary School, 1989, on the weekend.
“When crime in the country becomes part of a national conversation, the discussion usually sounds as if safety and security are concerns only for our middle and upper-class neighbourhoods. It is as if community watchgroups and crime prevention strategies are only for those of us who are less economically challenged, for those of us who are propertied,” the principal noted.
“In response to rising crime, we can build more gated communities, employ 24-hour security systems, deploy more police officers, expand the prison population and turn our backs on providing social policy and publicly-funded support for altering the quality of life for low income families. But we do so at our own peril and greater social alienation and implosion. We would be seeking to cocoon ourselves in our economic and social privilege while contributing to destroying the social fabric and social capital of this society.”
Her comments come amid rising concern about gun crimes in the country, with 32 people murdered for the year, so far.
Law enforcement officials have said that several of them are reprisal shootings, and the incidents are no longer confined to what were once viewed as problem areas, but have spread to normally tranquil communities.
Principal Barriteau has called for a collective responsibility for the social issues plaguing the society, including from the corporate community and the government.
She suggested a more structured long-term relationship, driven less by filling requests for gifts and various sponsorships, but rather exposure to mentoring and the provision of basic internships to help boost self-confidence.
“We should not take the position that those caught in the web of crime, that those who are not paying sufficient attention to raising their children, or do not know how to raise children to be socially and morally responsible, that their failure is their problem, that we have to look after our own, so they should look after theirs,” she urged.
“Not only would we be occupying a fool’s paradise, but that attitude taken to its extreme, would result in the social implosion of Barbados. What is needed to move Barbados forward is accepting and acting upon our collective responsibility for what happens in our society. That responsibility belongs to all of us as citizens, the corporate community or private sector and the government.”
As the veteran educator addressed those attending the ceremony at her alma mater, she made a case for policies and strategies that would result in children growing up to reject destructive behaviours.
She recommended improved community services and co-curricular programmes for more children before the age of ten.
If Barbados is serious about preventing young men and women from being enticed into a life of crime, this is necessary, she said.
“I urge all private sector organisations working with the Ministry of Education and through their various membership bodies to adopt a primary or secondary school in the country. Note well, this school should not be the alma mater of the CEO or the management team,” she suggested.