They left their classrooms at Frederick Smith Secondary, The Lodge School, The St Michael School, The Bridgetown Seventh Day Adventist Secondary, The Alleyne School and Coleridge and Parry, Christ Church Foundation, Princess Margaret Secondary and others.
They marched on Broad Street, High Street, Roebuck Street, and Crumpton Street into Queen’s Park.
They had one mission – to get the society to wake up to the vexing epidemic of violence.
They had one clear message – violence has no place in society and certainly not in schools.
Nicholas Maynard, Senior Prefect of the Frederick Smith Secondary School declared: “We will march, walk to bring focus and heightened awareness, do whatever as students we must do to have our voices heard.
“My fellow students I believe in our effective leadership in stamping out these things from our schools together. Let us begin the journey of making our schools great again.”
The National Rally against Violence was organized by the Frederick Smith School family still rocked by the fatal stabbing of 16-year-old Temario Holder by one of his peers.
Regrettably, the senseless loss of a young life brought us to this, but today’s show of solidarity on the part of this generation that is on the cusp of becoming the leaders of tomorrow makes us justifiably proud.
In a society where Barbadians enjoy robust debate on all that’s wrong, with little action, our children took a stand to say enough is enough.
It didn’t matter what school was afflicted by the incident. The students made it clear that all had been affected and something must be done to tackle this scourge.
One wonders why in a country that has grappled to adjust to a record 47 murders that adults have not been as vocal.
We expect some to question what would a march accomplish and indeed, it would be foolhardy to suggest it would be a solution to the problem.
For there is no quick fix, no magic wand to end lawlessness and deviance.
But this march and rally by this ‘peace army’ have forced us to confront the issue and maybe, just maybe, wake us up to the reality that we all have contributed the problem and therefore have a role to play to right our wrongs.
Violence in schools is nothing new. But we have failed as a society to tackle the underlying issues in our homes, in our communities, in our churches, in our workplaces that brought us to where we are.
We side with Education Minister Santia Bradshaw who linked hands with the students today and declared that all must put our agendas aside in support of the nation’s children as they cry out for safer schools and a safer society.
Said Bradshaw, ““I want the Frederick Smith School as I want other schools in this country to settle down.
“But it is only going to settle down if all of us realize that we all have a part to play in allowing schools to settle down. It is only going to change if we put aside our agendas.
“There isn’t a teacher agenda, there isn’t a union agenda, there isn’t a ministry agenda, and there isn’t a student agenda, because tragedy has taught us that when something happens, there is only one agenda and it is family.”
And that is where we must start this journey to saving our societies – our families. It can’t be said enough that strong families equal a strong society. Parents have to get back to basics. Far too many abdicate their responsibility to pay some interest in their child’s life. Children must not be left to devices, social media, the boys on the block, gangs or the school to fix.
Admittedly some parents can’t do it alone, and hence we need the entire village to get involved. The church, the school, civil society groups and the Government can in their respective spheres perform their roles to keep our children on the straight and narrow.
Our young people have spoken loud and clear on the issue, so it’s up to all of us to act.
The question is: Will we listen?