Letters

We must look before we leap into the abyss

Dear Editor,

The Jamaican prime minister recently wants to see the cessation of “beating” in Jamaica. This announcement represents a change in the status quo in Jamaica with respect to “beating” children, particularly boys.

Those who advocate for children and the Jamaican prime minister, Andrew Holness, would like to see the change in the method of disciplining children embraced across the island nation.

In Jamaica, it is felt that there is a direct correlation to “beatings” and crime in that country.

Maybe the same can be said for The Bahamas and most, if not all, Caribbean countries.

Maureen Samms-Vaughan, a child development and behavior specialist at the University of the West Indies, said, “Exposure to violence does impact both children’s academics and children’s behaviors.”

Samms-Vaughan noted that in schools children are often hit with rulers and paddles by teachers trying to instill classroom discipline.

She goes on further to say, “If we look at what’s happening in our society, we see that the majority of our violent and aggressive behavior is going straight into our homicide rates and it’s primarily boys. This is not the only factor, but it’s a significant factor contributing to aggression.”

What is being said by Samms-Vaughan is plausibly true and serious intervention and study is needed to determine the way forward to change the culture of brutality that is sometimes indiscriminately used in both the home and school in many of our sister Caribbean islands.

From my perspective, there is absolutely nothing wrong with change. However, when change is being considered, consideration must be given to what will replace that which is being changed. Consideration must be given to the fact that when one problem is solved, other problems arise.

Therefore, as we reflect on changing the status quo regarding “beating” students, let us ensure that due consideration is given to what will take its place that is more appropriate given the times in which we live. While we may not know all of the resultant problems that may occur, we must seriously consider how those problems that may and will arise will be handled.

The schools in the United States have become devoid of consequences for recalcitrant students and there appears to be an increase in consequences for teachers. This in itself has created serious problems for respect for teachers and the delivery of the educational product.

The change in the previous status quo in the United States has been that many schools have become “war zones” for teachers who are now finding it difficult, if not impossible, to deliver the educational product to the leaders of tomorrow. It is now commonplace for students to curse and attack teachers.

Students in many schools in the United States are very defiant and refuse to carry out even the most reasonable directives of teachers, and as a consequence very little learning takes place. If learning is being negatively impacted, the future would suffer the same fate. I know that there are those who often do not read and comprehend what is written on Facebook.

However, the message of this post is simple: change is inevitable, but we must look before we leap. The future depends on and is influenced by what we do today.

In closing, let me say that I agree with my Facebook friend and sister Nicolette Bethel that we must change our ways or perish, but if we are not to perish, let us be judicious and informed in the decisions we make in search of a better way and to make a difference in the present and thus enhance and improve the future of generations of Bahamians yet unborn. Selah.

Dr. Donald M. McCartney

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