Minister of Education Jeffrey Lloyd said yesterday he was “mortally offended” by a video that surfaced on social media last week showing a woman striking a girl with frying pans, and also by some of the responses garnered by that video.
In the video, the woman can be seen repeatedly striking the girl as she accuses her of engaging in inappropriate behavior during school, while the girl cries out.
“I was mortally offended and incensed by the display of abhorrent, despicable and senseless behavior by this adult woman,” Lloyd said in a statement.
“I was further offended and appalled by some of the views expressed in conversations and the media which appear to condone this barbaric act, seeking to justify it with an often misunderstood biblical imperative, or the ridiculous assertion that ‘it was done to me, and I turned out okay’.
This is not the first occasion in which Lloyd has publicly lashed out against viral videos depicting minors being struck or in otherwise compromising positions.
A series of such videos and images surfaced in May, including a video of a young girl referred to as “Muffin” being recorded lashing out, screaming and crying, which Lloyd then condemned as “disturbing”.
In another of the incidents, a parent posted a photo of a seventh grader’s severely bruised backside on social media after that child was punished by a school administrator, who was later charged with causing harm to a student.
At that time, Lloyd had invited government to consider sanctions for individuals who knowingly record and transmit instances of young persons in these kinds of predicaments.
He had also briefly addressed the controversial topic of corporal punishment during the 2019/2020 budget debate, saying that his ministry was having a conversation about it but that it’s an issue that needs the attention of all sectors of society.
“As a human being, a Bahamian and member of the executive branch of this country, I condemn to the highest degree possible the abuse of our citizens, especially our children, by anyone – whether verbal, emotional, psychological, physical, financial or cultural,” Lloyd said in his statement.
“For decades, we tried to identify and eliminate the root causes of crime and violence amongst us, and their disastrously negative consequences,” he continued, referencing the United Nations’ Global Study on Homicide 2019 report which recorded The Bahamas as having the sixth highest murder rate in the Americas.
“If we need a place to start, we may wish to examine how we treat each other, especially the most vulnerable among us.”
He added, “Obviously, respecting the inviolable dignity of the human person escapes a large swath of our population, who fail to accept that the sacred value of human life is the foundation of a moral vision for society.
“The human person is the clearest reflection of God’s presence in the world, and our primary pursuit of both justice and peace should be to protect and promote the dignity of every person.
“If this behavior is not vigorously condemned by the ethical benchmarks of this community, then we should, at least, be aware, that it is unlawful, and breaches international conventions to which The Bahamas has subscribed.”
Lloyd pointed to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child which outlines that a state must take all appropriate measures to protect children and that “no child shall be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”; and also to The Bahamas’ Child Protection Act which specifies that “anyone who assaults, ill treats, neglects, abandons or exposes a child in a manner likely to cause the child suffering or injury can be jailed for up to five years and fined up to $10,000”.
Lloyd also highlighted several studies against corporal punishment that suggest “spanking was associated with later aggressive behavior” in addition to “later anti-social behavior, anxiety and depression”.
“Closer to home, our own Dr. David Allen, the noted psychiatrist, has written and spoken extensively on the direct correlation between children who are abused and their use of violence later in life,” stated Lloyd.
“So when someone says it was ‘done to me and I turned out okay’, we should understand that if that is true, then they were the lucky ones.
“So many more find themselves in a cycle of violence that we see affecting succeeding generations.”
He added, “The spectre of violence in our land, particularly the harm and abuse of our children, cannot be tolerated and must be denounced in every instance.
“Our children are our future. It is our duty to protect them and ensure they grow up without the shadow of abuse. They deserve no less and it is our responsibility to do better on their behalf.”