A viral trend in which homeless people are slapped about their bodies has unfortunately made its way to Barbados.
And it has resulted in two juveniles being held by police as investigations continue into the matter.
In the videos posted yesterday via social media, two young boys are seen slapping four elderly men across their heads in the vicinity of Spry Street and Roebuck Street, the City.
Two of the men were sitting having lunch when they were slapped, while the others were slapped while walking along the street.
In one of the videos a female can be heard shouting, “Stop it. That is not nice,” as a boy runs away.
Police public relations officer Inspector Rodney Inniss told Barbados TODAY the trend had surfaced on social media about a year ago, where people in different jurisdictions were slapping persons as a practical joke.
He said while the two juveniles were in police custody, they were hoping to reach an “amicable” solution.
“We have two juveniles along with a complainant, an elderly men who was a victim in the act. They are in our custody and we are trying to have that matter sorted in an amicable way without having to put them before the court,” Inniss said.
He however, maintained that police were not in any way condoning the boys’ actions.
“We don’t support that from any person whether young or old. Wrong is wrong and certainly there must be respect for the elderly in our society. Nobody deserves that type of treatment and we condemn it from any person,” the senior cop added.
The boys’ behaviour has also been castigated by President of the Barbados Alliance to End Homelessness, Kemar Saffrey and Minister of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs, Cynthia Forde.
Saffrey told Barbados TODAY that violence against homeless persons had been going on for a long time.
He said the only difference now was that those acts were being highlighted on social media.
Saffrey called on Government to enact legislation to help protect, not only homeless persons, but the most vulnerable.
“We’ve always highlighted this problem but because of social media it is becoming more prevalent. People are now seeing the actions of those persons who are posting it on social media for likes and other purposes,” he said.
“For too long we’ve seen actions like these go unjustified and it is scary because people are moving from just the homeless to sex workers, to those in the LGBT community and that is not a development that we should encourage.
“This is not something that I am going to stand idly by as an advocate, or as an organization and watch people abuse the homeless. We are calling for laws to protect the vulnerable in this country. We are calling for policies and acts that support criminal offences like these against people that are vulnerable and for there to be stiff penalties for when people get out there and decide to abuse the homeless in this country, the elderly in this country, the LGBT community or the sex workers on the streets plying their trade,” Saffrey contended.
Minister Forde told Barbados TODAY she “completely abhorred” the acts of the juveniles.
She said the incident was just the latest sign of the decaying morals in society.
“It really is unacceptable for anybody whether it be a child or an adult to take advantage of a homeless person or a disabled person, or any person at all.
“This is now about the fourth incident within a matter of two weeks that we are seeing children lashing out in a negative way to the extent where they are actually wounding persons and therefore it speaks to what is happening in our society,” Forde said.
She called for a return to the old days where “a village raised a child”, saying it was the best way to instill discipline and morals. ([email protected])