Don’t turn our schools into prisons.
That was the stern advice of former minister of education, Ronald Jones to his successor, Santia Bradshaw as she and other education officials search desperately for answers nearly ten days after a fatal stabbing rocked the Frederick Smith Secondary School.
As suggestions of metal detectors, widespread searches and the installation of cameras abound, Jones declared no such measures could shield the nation against youth who have been given no direction and whose minds have been polluted in their own homes and communities.
“Just the same way it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a country to take care of its schools and to take care of its young people in those schools. Unfortunate circumstances have hit one of our schools. The life of a young man gone, cut down by another young man and a nation should not be putting blame, but a nation should be in prayer,” he told party faithful at last night’s Democratic Labour Party meeting in St Philip.
“It is the mind that is polluted and some of our children have been given no direction unfortunately in their communities, in their homes. Sometimes when you investigate, you encounter the horror of the neglect and children scrambling to survive and working for people who are nefarious just to put on a pair of shoes or a school pants or to get five dollars to buy a little lunch. It is even worse now because all of the supportive agencies are being denied the resources to meet and to get into our homes.”
In addition, regardless of strong-armed tactics being considered by the government to combat the situation, Jones argued many of the instruments used for violence can be found inside the schools.
“A nation should be seeking solutions because that is not the only one that could be cut down by gun, or chisel in the woodwork room, or knife in the home economics room. I am making this point because sometimes we are silly people. We run into a panic and turn the school into a prison” he said.
Jones linked much of the social problems being experienced in society on poverty and blamed an increased level of selfishness in the society and blatant double standards from people in authority.
“They [youth] see the triple standards, the confusion of their minds as to what is right and what is wrong, what is good and what is bad. They see that you buy their votes. They know that you spin the dice and encourage dope peddlers. Fool who you are fooling, but not me, I am too old.
“Some of us have become too higher up and better off, who don’t care to look left or to look right and right through the heart of this nation is a lot of selfish people, passing by some crowded place and then getting up in self-righteous agony asking ‘how de youth get so?’ They got so because you saw something happening and didn’t stop and encourage our young men that there is a better way,” he said.