With increasing regularity, we get news that schoolchildren, primary and secondary, are engaging in fights, bullying and truly violent behaviour in many of the government schools throughout the nation. In some recent instances, children are caught in school with weapons. In one or two cases, revolvers have been found in schoolbags.
The minister, school authorities and even the police make statements about these incidents, but that’s about all. Suspension seems to be the only punishment meted out to offenders and that’s that.
Two instances that come to mind is the serious injury to a child in Central Trinidad and only a fortnight ago a teacher trying to instil discipline was severely beaten and had to undergo surgery on one of his knees. Appalling, to say the least.
It would appear that the times are long gone when a child would even think of being disrespectful to any teacher, far more to attack or assault a teacher. Just goes to show that respect is just not observed or practised at home. We cannot keep doing the same things and expect different results. I believe that too many of today’s children are left devoid of exemplary behaviour.
But apart from consoling statements from the authorities, the one absent factor, an important one at that, is: Where are the parents of these misguided children? These offending boys and girls must live somewhere and are supposed to be guided by parents or guardians. But we never hear about the role they play in the lives of their charges.
Shouldn’t the parents or guardians be held responsible for the children’s deeds? We see happy parents when there is success, but never see or hear them when things go haywire. Shouldn’t they be brought to book for their children’s indiscipline and violent behaviour? My belief is that they must be held accountable for the actions of their children.
Many people would not agree with me but their children’s behaviour is directly connected to the home. Instability and single-parent homes, environment and influence are root causes for children’s behaviour. Remember a child practises what (s)he sees. Violent quarrels between parents or guardians spawn violence and anger in children.
A major contributor to the way children behave these days is the almost complete breakdown of family life in our society. So many homes are run by one or other parent; homes that hardly have proper conversations or even have time for pleasurable activities.
We need not study the present structure of a family. Look at the many stories in the media; the children all have different surnames meaning they were born of short-term relationships. Fast forward a bit and as they grow older, because there is no true family life, they grow further and further from good societal norms and gravitate to street lives.
There was the time not very long ago when teachers were revered people in this society and if you were naughty in school, you hoped that the teacher did not bounce up your parents.
Today, with all the various ‘rights’ swirling around, parents are ready to abuse teachers if their children do any wrong. So is it difficult to understand when there is an upheaval in the community you hear “he was a kind person who did not interfere with anyone”. But when law enforcement is involved, it’s the other way around. “Police brutality.”
I ask parents and adults to think seriously about the kind of people we are tasked with pouring into this broken society and forecast if it’s the right way.