Letters & Opinion

Children ‘Safer at School’, but Safe from What or Whom?

Image of Carlton Ishmael
By Carlton Ishmael

Life becomes chaotic when we do not pay attention to the writings on the wall. For example, we see, we hear, we notice many trends and behaviour patterns but pretentiously we pay them no mind.

Then, when the circumstances become unbearable, we then complain, or question why the authorities do nothing to curb the situation, forgetting that we are the ones who encouraged what we are now complaining about. In other words, we are reaping what we sow even without realizing it. Imagine that!

Of late, you hear the frequent quotation or comment from educators that school is ‘the safest place to be, but I ask the question: Safe from What, or Safe from Whom?

What I have seen and heard has brought me to the conclusion that most people think that staying home or being in your community, is not a safe place to be. Apparently there seems to be the fear that if children, especially of a school age, are not within the school walls, they are liable to become victims of harm.

It is commonly known that most children come from homes with either one or both parents, yet it seems that in their own homes or environment, they also fall prey to abuse, be it sexual, physical, or verbal.  There seems to be a lot of abuse that is not reported, or taken seriously and therefore has become a scourge.

We do not see such action as criminal in nature, and we take it for granted, like in Barbados where it took the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) to tell Bajans ‘Hell no, men can be raped too” because rape is any forced sexual act on someone without their consent; and what we decently call “Buggery” is also illegal, especially when it involves the person at the receiving end not having consented to be “buggered”. The fact we never paid attention to realize is that Rape is gender-neutral and the law does not say it is only meant for women, it’s only we who have put it that way in our minds.

Unfortunately, it’s the same way that too many people here believe that it is normal for children to become victims of such barbaric behavior because that is to be expected or because the law has no say in family business of what happens at someone’s home… Everyone hears the horrible stories, everybody knows of a victim, everybody knows the culprits, but little or no action is taken, and such action goes unchecked.

It is so sad and frightening that we allow parents to allow their children to be abused, knowing the effects or the harm it can cause in the long run to the children, and we keep such information and take no action. But instead, we sweep it under the rug and allow the home-based criminals to continue being the criminals that they have either always were or have become, whether during or after COVID forced children to study at home because of the lack of assurances of health safety at all schools and teachers own fears that they get COVID in the classroom or the school.

We behave like it is alright for young children to be molested and abused, we behave like sex is a necessary way of life and the younger the victim the more it seems to be okay, or the more it becomes “no big thing…”  Children are hurting, children are scared to stay or go Home and yet when they rebel, or go wayward we do not blame ourselves or the ones who created the circumstance, but instead we point finger on the State, or blame the Police or the magistrates in the courts for not doing their jobs, forgetting it is the same parents — and in most cases the ‘Bo-pere’ (Mother’s Man) and trusted ‘Step Fathers’ and close friends, even Family members and neighbours — that know what is going on in their homes and do nothing about it.

The same situation relates to material gains we see the children bringing home, expensive gifts, that their parents did not supply, yet we do not inquire about its origin, or find out how, or why the children got such gifts or items and again we pretend that it is alright and they got it through good natured means.

We are a sick society, our homes have become breeding grounds for criminality, we see wads of money in our children’s possession, and still pretend that they got it through legitimate means and we even enjoy the loot with them. How naive can we be? Why are we so gullible and irresponsible and yet we blame the children for being “criminals” and “gunmen” and “young whores”, forgetting it is we that cause what they become, and we are equally guilty of allowing crime to exist.

I fear that if we do not wake-up and smell the coffee, and don’t change this existing way of life, our future, our children, our lovers, will continue to be the ones responsible for what they have become, just because we did nothing, we said nothing, and we took no action, as per usual.

In most cases it’s all about not losing out on the perks, not telling so you don’t lose out, securing your own livelihood, regardless of the damage done to the children.

Yet we claim to love our children — especially some Mothers who blame the Fathers for not being present in the children’s lives if, for some reason, their relationship faltered and failed.

Oh, what a dreadful situation!

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