Written by Sonia Boddie, CARICOM Youth Ambassador, St.Kitts and Nevis
Having had the opportunity to watch the most recent videos, of incidents of violence that took place in both our primary and secondary schools, I wish to publicly condemn these unacceptable behaviours displayed by our children and youth. As I endured the unsettling task of watching the videos, that spread like wildfire across WhatsApp, Facebook and other media, I could not help but to realize that the violence was not only perpetrated by those who were seen kicking and boxing their opponents, but it was encouraged by those who looked on attentively, as if they were watching the latest Blockbuster movie released. It would also be remiss of me, if I did not highlight that even though many members of the public may be grateful that these videos were taped, as they expose the instances of alarming disorderly conduct exhibited by our children at school, those responsible for taping the violence, are also guilty of encouraging the continuance of such acts.
As I often remind young people with whom I come into contact, if someone has said or done something to you that you do not appreciate, make a complain to a teacher, group leader, trusted adult as the case may be, and if necessary, report it to the police. Never attempt to take the law into your own hands, because as the old folk would say “it takes two to quarrel, and where things start, aint there it does end”. As was sadly evidenced in one of the videos, one of the students involved in the altercation was left motionless. This is a very frightening situation, and as a society we cannot sit back and allow these acts to become common place in our institutions of learning. We need to constantly remind our children, that they are sent to school to get a good education, to conduct themselves respectfully and that should they experience some type of challenge or confrontation with another student, they should immediately report it to the teachers or security personnel, for them to address the issues. Also, it is important to remind the children, that once they observe any type of act, that is not consistent with good behavior, or is in violation of school policies, they must not assume the role of bystanders and media personnel, but they must immediately report it and seek help, to quickly diffuse any brewing tensions.
Furthermore, adults it is important for us to set good examples for our nation’s children as well, as they often pattern our behaviours. We cannot expect to effectively hold them to account, if we are not presenting ourselves as good role models. I must note how outraged I was, having witnessed in one video, that an adult in “working clothes”, visited the grounds of one school, and got involved in a fight with a student, who apparently would have had an altercation with a student relative of hers. Adults, such behaviours are TOTALLY DISGUSTING, UNACCEPTABLE AND I DARE SAY IN POOR TASTE, AND LEAVES A LOT TO BE DESIRED! Also, the pictures that are presently being popularly disseminated, with a young adult female with several nasty bruises to her face, similar to the pictures of Rihanna after she was beaten by Chris Brown, is another startling reminder that we must begin to teach alternative conflict resolution skills to our children from a very early age. Violence should not be the response to everything that upsets us, or to every difference of opinion we share. We must be able to discuss our differences, agree to disagree and know when to walk away from a situation that could possibly escalate, to a more dangerous one.
Let us together as a nation therefore, commit to encouraging, empowering and inspiring our youth to stay clear of violent acts and get our youth to join together with us and resoundingly say together, “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me, let me walk with my brother and sister, in perfect harmony!”