Optimist International has issued the following statement in response to Friday’s incident at the Frederick Smith Secondary School that resulted in the death of a 16-year-old student.
A society that has reached the point where disputes of any type, but particularly disputes among our youth, are being resolved through aggressive postures is a society that needs intervention.
A society that has reached the point where a human life has little value, is a society that is losing its soul.
A society that is constantly hearing the cries from Educators that school environments are no longer safe havens, is a society that is losing its sense of place.
Successive Governments have tried various tools and strategies to address these concerns; however, my concern is that these tools and strategies never appear holistic and strategic but rather they appear ad hoc and reactive.
Our society requires an intervention where each of us plays a role in restoring a culture of discipline and inculcating positive values throughout our population.
We cannot simply cry out that “we need to find the Lord” because we are all not believers. So although this can help, we must also embrace a system of participation by all, where we are each responsible for deploying and committing to a National narrative which is shaped by our leaders, while using our innate common sense to enforce or embolden acceptable norms of positive behavior by both adults and youth.
A National narrative must focus on revamping our educational system; strengthening dysfunctional family units; managing cost of living; mandatory voluntary service; effective control of the drugs and gun trades; substance abuse; better employment opportunities; and a recommitment to set of cultural mores that once helped Barbados to be recognized as a civil society. This narrative but be set from the top and committed to by all of our Nation’s leaders. There must be outreach to NGOs, Religious Groups, and Educators to help shape and to support the narrative. It must be a national initiative led by the Government and managed in a non-partisan manner. These elements are done in some form or fashion but my point is that there needs to be cohesion and a clear outcome that is defined and desired.
There are some who may say these comments are reactionary and they are right. There is always that moment that flicks the switch in ourselves that we must become part of the solution. Each of us need to have that moment. It is my intention to convene a meeting with local club and district leaders to determine how Optimist Clubs can work with Government, Educators, and other community leaders.
This senseless act has left a family grieving, students shocked, and a Nation in disbelief. We can only imagine how the families of the victim and the perpetrator must feel. I am Christian so I will turn to prayers to support them. But I am also Bajan and I am a human being, so my commitment must extend beyond prayers, as must yours.
Let’s use our hearts, voices, and hands to create a civil society that protects our youth, our people, and that embraces positive human and social values.
Adrian M. Elcock
President – Optimist International