Category: Family


The twenty-first century has seen a disturbingly regrettable trend of more and more parents of academically average children playing less and less active role in their children’s education during the school year here in St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG). Every year, even before students can get into their summer flow, the back-to-school hype literally invades their minds via radio, television, and now the internet and telephone advertising. Parents are enthusiastically busy getting their children registered into new schools, buying books, uniforms and paying other preparatory expenses. But where do these parents disappear to after day one of the new school year?

A successful education system, such as we allege to have in SVG depends on the collaboration of the student, teacher, school, home and community. Learning is indeed a partnership. But partners in this education process are becoming woefully negligent and even uncaring. Years ago, it was the norm to find that parents would make it their business to know their children’s teachers, to keep in continuous contact with the school and to reinforce education policies and school decisions at home.

But today, the environment and world of learning that schools offer students in the classroom is tantamount to a fleeting fairy-tale feeling of bliss while at the movies, because after the school bell rings, many children are returning to homes and communities with very contrasting views on schooling and life values.

It is a reality we cannot afford to ignore much longer.

Generally speaking, the education policies, from the Ministry of Education to the individual school regulations, have been doing their fair share of keeping students on task and actively involved in their learning. But there is very little structure and support for the students outside their classrooms. As it is now, far too many children, some as young as those in primary schools, are being just left on their own to literally become young independents. They are home alone after school, they have no set bed time hour, they go wherever they want, they do whatever they want, and on mornings they are told by their parents who go to work and leave them at home, to get themselves ready for school ad go to school.

Of course, many of them don’t habitually go to school, or they go to school regularly late.

So the question is: Why is this generation of parents neglecting their most vital parenting responsibilities as regards their children’s education during the school year? Well, perhaps the following real-life incident might shed light on the causes.

When summer was ending in 2014 I was making my way through the market when some parents began talking about the reopening of school. “Let school hurry up open,” the first parent said. “Yes,” was the quick reply of a second parent. “I can’t keep any food in the fridge for this whole month of August.” A third parent then said, “My electricity bill went sky high because the children home watching TV every day.” Then a fourth parent said: “The other day I go home and meet the water hose turned on. The water run whole day because the child at home and been playing with the hose.”

The above comments suggest to me that the primary function of school for the average parent is to give them a relief from the “burden” of looking after their own children on a daily basis. Something is causing a paradigm shift in local parenting. This is evident from incidents when a parent is highly upset that she has to report to her child’s school because he or she was suspended. Long ago the anger would have been focused on the reason the child was suspended in the first place. Now it is aimed at the school for disrupting the parent’s “vacation” from life without the child around.

This parenting shift is also real when a parent can also declare in front of their child that they don’t love or care about that child; that their money, attention and love is going to the brother or sister at another school. That’s an actual development.

The time has come for parental courses, tutorials, help-a-thons or the like, to be made available for many parents. Many of them are proving unable–or unwilling–to cope with their basic responsibilities of parenting their school-going children.

No child asked to be born, so when that child is born it is the duty of the parent to start living a sacrificial life for the child; however, what is happening is that many parents wish to continue living as though they have no children. That is a recipe for the failure of the child.

Yes, parents may have to work, but they should not just accept that they leave home before the child wake up, or that they come home late at nights hours after the child reached home from school. Parents, you have an equal responsibility to make sure some mature adult is there before and after school.

Children are also  leaving home and returning from school with no adult to inspect or monitor the contents of their bags or pockets. The moral straying in this area is infinite. From not taking books to school to bringing back books, cell phone, drugs or money that does not belong to them, are all possible results because children are unsupervised at home or left unchecked.

When a child can buy their own uniform, stitch in the pants, or wear multiple pieces to school–something is wrong with the way parenting is done. When a child’s report from December is still uncollected in June–something is wrong with the way parenting is done.

Has the time come for parents of school-going children to sign a legal parenting contract which spells out specific things that they must do after registering their child, or getting the new bag, books and uniform for September?

Could it be that the twenty-first century parents are having children as a consequence of sexual activity, rather than having intercourse because they genuinely want to have children?

The answers to  those questions are critically important if schooling has to once again become the noble and proven way of giving indigent children an escape from poverty.

In too many instances, school is being reduced to a mere baby-sitting hub where children only give priority to the after-school lime with their fellow students from across the island when they gather in the capital city and stand at the bus stop for hours each and every evening.

Education is still a valuable asset, and schooling is still a fundamental necessity but we are fooling ourselves if we only make back-to-school an emotional hype of making a social statement and then abandon the children to sink in the academic seas of actual reading, studying and doing home-work. We should really not celebrate back to school without prioritizing going back to parenting.

 

 

 

 

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My Mother’s Last Day Up and About

Wednesday March 20, 1996, was the last day my mother was up and about on her feet before she took sick with a stroke. It’s hard to believe that today is exactly twenty years now since that sadly unforgettable day. Our lives changed from that day onwards. But through it all I experienced first hand the loving presence and kindness of the Lord Jesus Christ.

At that time in 1996 I was a young teacher who was preparing for the end of the second term. I was teaching a school where second term exams were administered; for some unknown reason I had decided to prepare and type my exams quite ahead of schedule. I was to find out that that was God’s way of helping me to be prepared and have my work out of the way.

I remember the lunch hour on that Wednesday very vividly. At a nearby church I had gone to a 12 o’ clock service. The preacher was a lady who spoke about preparing for God’s blessing by faith. She preached that if you want God to bless you with something–if you want to achieve a goal–don’t wait until it becomes real before you start preparing or living as though it is real. At that time I was thinking of getting my driver’s license. I made up my mind then and there that I would enroll in driving school. I wouldn’t wait for a time when I own a vehicle. I would do it now.

Because it was Wednesday, my local church was having Bible Study. And I went that night. One memory is embedded in my mind from that service. Just as we were about to close, and the final prayer was being prayed, I felt an overpowering sense of God’s presence. I felt backwayrds and landed comfortably on the pew behind of me. That was something that never happened to me unless I was up at the altar.

But God was preparing me.

I got home around 9 o’ clock and a favourite show that my mom and I enjoyed watching was just starting. But I noticed that mommy was not there. I found her in her bedroom. She was sitting on her bed reading the Bible. So I said, “Mommy, look Murder, She Wrote showing and you nar watch.” I can’t remember her exact words, but her response was that she prefers to read the Bible and spend time with God than to watch Murder, She Wrote. Because mommy was had an established routine of praying and reading the Bible at 12 midday and 6 pm daily I did not think too much of the response.

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My mother, Clorita Daniel, and her first grandchild, Kesron, in the 1990s

 

I, however, went in the living room to watch the show. Sometime after, mommy came out and stood behind of me. She said something to make a joke with me and swung her hand playfully as if to give me a clout. I playfully ducked and dodged her hand. Later on I would wish I had allowed mommy to hit me one last time. I should also interject that one of my brothers, Godwin, who was a police officer, came home that same day to spend the night–something that was not a frequent occurence.

After that playful incident mommy went to bed and so did I.

But before I continue let me take you on a flashback to two incidents that happened in the week leading up to this day, Wednesday March 20, 1996. Mommy used to go to the vegetable market in town to sell every Friday. On Friday March 15, 1996, I met her at the bus stop waiting to catch a van to come home. I was of course coming from work. She got  a van. I had to wait because I was “travelling monthly” with a particular van. But I sensed an overwhelming desire to give my mother a $3 which was the passage or bus fare to get home. So as she was getting into the van I handed her the money.

“What this for?” she asked.

“To pay your passage,” I replied.

The second incident happened the day after this. On Saturday March 16, 1996, while mommy was at home, we heard a male voice shouting “Tantie Clorita!” Mommy got up from her seat in the living room and went to se who it was. To her surprise–and mine too–it was one of her nephews from Carriere. The young man was the son of her sister, my “Tantie Dona”. He hadn’t visited in a long time. I can tell that both nephew and aunt were glad to see each other. I watched them talking happily for a long time. Then I went about doing other Saturday morning stuff.

No let’s get back to the night of Wednesday March 20, 1996.

Somewhere in the middle of my usually sweet and comfortable sleep I was awaken by my father’s voice calling me. I went to the voice, still sleepy. I saw Daddy and my police brother trying to pick mommy up from a sitting position on the ground. She had told Daddy that she was going to urinate but didn’t get very far.

The scene had me stunned and I could not quite figure out what was happening; however, we all tried and eventually got her back in bed and laid her on her back. A few minutes after that we saw mommy almost “stretching out” and her eyes rolling back in her head.

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My brother Godwin (R) and I in 1992, after coming back from church

 

If I was never frightened before in my life, I was frightened then. My brother went and opened the top half of the back door in the kitchen. I think he had tears in his eyes.

I went to my room and turned on my stereo, selecting Shirley Caesar’s “He will do it again!” I turned the volume up.

We determined it was best to get mommy to the hospital. I called a neighbour, but when he realized  that mommy couldn’t sit up he advised us to call an ambulance. That we did.

The ambulance came. We got mommy onto the strethcher and into the ambulance. Here is where some bizzare things happened. The ambulance could not start. The driver tried and tried but to no avail. In fact, no lights at all were coming on. There were no ignition lights. There were no headlamp lights. There were no siren lights.

I knew then that Satan was trying to keep my mother away from getting medical help. Then I have to say what happened next was nothing less than a miracle.

The neighbour whom I had called before and who said to get the ambulance, he suddenly showed up. He was a mechanic and was able to get the ambulance’s engine started. But there still was no light on the ambulance. So this God-sent neighbour volunteered to drive in front of the ambulance straight to the hospital. Daddy went with the ambulance.

By the time I got back into the house, I saw it was about five minutes past one in the morning. I went back to sleep.

There were some very scary, sad and lonely times in the days and weeks following. One of which was when the doctor who was looking after mommy in the hospital met me in the capital city, Kingstown, and told me right then and there that I should not expect my mother to come back out of the hospital because she only has a 5% chance of surviving. That news I heard in the middle of a crowded street in Kingstown.

Mommy baked our Christmas cakes that year. Hallelujah.

Mommy came out of the hospital on April 17, 1996. She would go on to live for another eleven years before leaving her earthly body on November 3, 2007.

That time in my life taught me that prayer works, that God is present in trouble and sickness, and that there is a power greater than doctors. I also discovered that a hospital can be a place of healing and recovery; I need not be afraid of hospitals.

During the time mommy was hospitalized I did go to driving school. I got my driver’s license that same year. I reasoned that drastic situations called for drastic measures. If something traumatically bad had happened in life, I will respond by doing something drastically good.

St Martin's Secondary School

St Martin’s Secondary School

With the death and burial recently of one of my high school teachers, Ezekiel “Scatter” Butcher, I started to purposefully reflect on my times at St Martin’s Secondary School in Kingstown, St Vincent and the Grenadines. It was the best a boy could get in terms of a quality education at a conducive and learner friendly environment.

I entered St Martin’s in September 1987 and I can honestly say that the next five years were among the very best years of my entire life. They were really golden years. This is a sentiment being echoed by many of my classmates and schoolmates who were privileged to be enrolled at the institution in that golden era.  Prior to 1987 I had never known or heard about St Martin’s; however, it was after I was only one of two boys from Evesham Methodist School lucky enough to pass the 1987 Common Entrance exam that my teachers told me about St Martin’s.

I was immediately excited and thrilled about the prospects of attending a “town school” because it would mean that I would be riding vans every day. Vehicles and rides were scarce luxuries in the Evesham of 1987. I can still vividly remember jumping up and down when I got the confirmation slip from the Ministry of Education that said I would be going to St Martin’s Secondary School.

One of the first challenges was having to be in “town” on my own. So far, the only place I went to on my own was the village next door. So my brother and mother accompanied me to the school on registration day. That event happened in the library. It was my first time meeting the Christian Brothers—Br. Alfred Marshall was the principal and conducted the exercise himself. Up to that point I had only seen “white people” on TV and so it dawned on me that my world was really expanding.

That summer we were invited to attend Math classes being taught by Mr Bradley Brooker. I shall always remember walking out the gate after the first session and realizing I was lost because I had not memorized the immediate street. Panic gripped me but then a voice said to me just follow the other students and see where they go. That idea got me back on the right track.

I would never lose my way again.

The rest of the summer was a new adventure everyday. As I began meeting the other boys I realized that I was meeting children from all over St Vincent and the Grenadines. We shared our respective memories of our various primary schools at every chance we got.

Then the 1987 school year began. During the summer there was just a handful of us new students—about twenty or so—but on the first day of school I felt totally lost at the awesome sight of literally hundreds of boys in blue and white. It was like I walked into an ants nest of blue and white. I had no idea what to do, where to go, who to talk to. So guess what I did?

I followed the students who were in front of me when I entered the gate. So I stayed in that bright blue and white traffic. I kept climbing the steps. On the second flight of stairs, a friend I made at the summer lessons, Clinty Joseph, was on his way down. He said to me, “Is you I coming to look for you know. Come see where our class is.”

If there ever was a Godsend, that was Clinty right there!

He told me to check on the door to see which of the two form ones I was in. Back then the class lists were placed on the doors. I scanned the first list and found my name. Clinty could not be happier because he, too, was on that list.

Even though I had been at summer school, the classrooms looked quite different. They were cleaner and shone just as brightly as the uniforms and book bags of the new students occupying them. As the years went by I would later learn and see that it was Mr Butcher who used his summer to lead a school painting taskforce every year.

One of the first things that struck me about my new class was that it was so roomy and clean. It had louvers on both sides and so very well ventilated. I smiled to myself. I already loved my new school. When I later heard a man speaking over a speaker I was astonished. The school had a PA system. I automatically gave the school two thumbs up and all five stars!

St Martin’s Secondary School (SMSS) was a family. I saw that in operation every day. There was a real sense of caring and sharing. Looking back, nobody seemed vexed with you or having “bad mind” as the youths say of themselves these days. There were 38 students in my Form 1 Set 2 and I honestly can say there were no “haters” in that large group.

St Martin’s taught me a lot about friendships from day 1. I had met Marlon Roberts who lived in Questelles and had attended the Petersville Primary School. I tried sneaking up behind him one break time to cover his eyes with my hands. It was a game we played. But somehow Marlon must have known I was there because he turned around just as I was about to clamp my hands over his eyes.

What happened next I would never forget. The plan backfired in that my finger got in his eye and he was immediately upset. He said: “Alyo man always a do stupidness you know!”

I felt so guilty and embarrassed that I ran away and tried my best to avoid him from then on. Then a day or two afterwards it was Marlon who sneaked up on me and actually apologized to me. That showed me who a real friend was. It was the first time in my life another person was apologizing to me.

Marlon did one other thing that year to make me understand friends are really people who care about your best interests. It happened when our Algebra teacher, Mr Best, had given us the option of attending either algebra or camera lessons after school. I went in the camera group, which had upper form students.

After a while Marlon came over to me and he said, “Ashford, you can always learn to use a camera you know, but you can’t always learn how to do algebra.”

That struck me to the core.

Never before had anyone analysed my actions and given me advice for my benefit. Additionally, because it came from somebody my own age, I was totally impressed and realized I had a real friend. Without saying a word, I left the camera group and joined my friend in the algebra lessons.

In those days we used to have what we call a “Special Schedule” on Fridays. Classes lasted only 35 minutes. There was no break; however, lunch was from 10:40 to 11:15. School used to over at 1:25 PM every Friday.

Our Form Master, Mr Kelly, used to stay back with us and do fun activities. Often, we would join with the students from Form 1 Set 1 and their Form Master. That is how I learned to make and fly a kite.

Other notable experiences that first year included getting licks for doing home work in class. Mr Sarkar was the Dean of discipline. Homework was to be done at home. The first time Mr Sarkar came to teach us Geography, he wrote four Ss on the board. The first S meant “stand up”. The second S meant “shut up”; the third S meant “Sarkar”,  and the fourth S was for “Sir”.

It was not that he just wrote and told us about these Ss. He bellowed them to us new terrified students. I could have sworn I was in the military! I won’t be surprised if some boys with bladder problems did wet their pants that morning.

But Mr Sarkar also wrote four other letters on the board. H.A.R.P. That would prove to be his motto for teaching. The letters stood for Honesty, Ambition, Respect and Pride.

We enjoyed Geography class after that unforgettable introduction.

St Martin’s Secondary School gave us local boys a chance to meet people from around the world. Mr Kelly, for example, was a young American who was volunteering a year teaching us English. There were different volunteers each year. We also met other boys who were in St Vincent but citizens from overseas—from Caribbean islands to America and Canada.

As we did our work we soon realized that our teachers wanted us to also have fun. There were times when all we did was just tell jokes and old talk.

And we did not just learn about the academic syllabus. I remember the first time I experienced a sex education lesson was from Mr Butcher in his form four Social Studies class. Up until then I didn’t think teachers ever talked about sex or relationships in class with students. But it helped us. It was a real life lesson.

In a Form 3 Religion class, Br Robert made us all sit up with mouths open and eyes popping out of our heads. He began his lesson: “What does somebody really mean when they say fuck you?”

No body slept in that class.

St Martin’s Secondary School made a name for itself in sports as well. Apart from the usual inter-House and Inter-School athletics events, we were a force to be reckoned with on the football and cricket field as well. In 1smss football news story990 the St Martin’s football team won the finals of the secondary schools football competition after beating the Bethel High School. I still can see students like Curtis Greaves (now principal of the Emmanuel High School in Mesopotamia) stamping the wooden stands at the Victoria Park so passionately that I really was expecting the stands to collapse.

In 1991, the St Martin’s football team was back in the finals of the secondary schools football tournament. We faced off against the Barrouallie Secondary School. The match went into overtime and the boys had to have penalty shootouts. Christmas came early at St Martin’s that year because we won the game and were football champions for two years in a row! We all left the Victoria Park pretty hoarse that day.

That same year, in 1991, Mr Brooker led the St Martin’s cricket team to the finals of the secondary schools cricket competition. NBC Radio, back then known as 705 Radio, broadcasted the match live. I remember clearly, sportscaster Mike Findlay asking student Grant Connell (yes, he is the lawyer of today) who he believes will win the match. And Grant simply told him that St Martin’s already has it wrapped up. Mike was just impressed by the smarts of the St Martin’s student.

St Martin’s secondary School did win the 1991 secondary schools cricket championship. So in that year we were both football and cricket champions of all the secondary schools in St Vincent and the Grenadines!

But it didn’t end there. In 1992, guess who was back in the finals of the secondary schools football competition? Yes, St Martin’s. And guess which school we came up against? None other than the St Vincent Boys Grammar School. Now this was poised to be an interesting and historic match indeed. You see, there was always this unspoken competition between the Grammar School and St Martin’s to see which of these two all-boys schools was really number one. Because the match was played at the end of the calendar year, my group had already graduated from St Martin’s. In fact we were now in 6th Form (what is now called Community College).

The sole Sixth Form on the island was attached to the Grammar School. Nonetheless my classmates, St Clair “Herbie” Stapleton, Ronnie Daniel, Harold Lewis, Sheldon Venner, and I, all came to support St Martin’s that afternoon. Now our Sixth Form teacher came and sat among us in the section with St Martin’s students. As if that was not odd enough, she had the Grammar School flag. I just felt she was “in enemy territory”. She made the mistake of waving the flag when Grammar School had made a goal and all I saw was the Grammar School flag flying in mid air to the ground at the front of the stand. Almost immediately someone ran and tossed it into a green garbage bin nearby.

The entire stand erupted in an uproar that would have drowned out any Carnival Monday jam.

By the end of the game St Martin’s Secondary School had created history by winning the secondary schools football championship for three years in a row! And we did it by beating the St Vincent Grammar School. Coach Gary Thomas had really worked very hard. Players such as Rohan Keizer, Dominique Stowe, Terry Anderson, Jimi Jack and Maxion Richardson, among others on the team, really were top football players in the country, even though they were teenagers.

smss football champs

This is the football team that won the 3rd title

Now, just before we had graduated in June of 1992, our graduating class also did something that I don’t believe any other graduating class has done. We re-enacted the finals of the football championship between the the champs, St Martin’s, and the opponents in the finals, the Barrouallie Secondary School in a floodlight football match at Victoria Park. The moon was out in all its glory. We had students picking up ticket monies. We had students in charge of Bar be que. We had students manning the bar. It was an unforgettable night. Oh yes, I was responsible for getting the event advertised and so Chester Connell, a past student of St Martin’s who was a top radio announcer at 705 Radio at the time, did the ad for us.

There are so very many other precious memories from St Martin’s. It struck me during times when school was closed that other students who were not from my class would actually say hello to me whenever and wherever we met. That comforted me so much. I knew I was not just a student in a school. I was a brother in a large family.

Up to this day those of us who grew up at the school in that era, refer to each other as “Brother”.

And we saw it even as the news spread of the death of Mr Butcher. Old boys came to the funeral dressed in their St Martin’s uniform. I was one of them.  Seeing all the other people associated with the golden era of St Martin’s made tears come to my eyes.

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Mr Butcher’s body leaving the Anglican Church in Kingstown

We were mightily blessed to have been at St Martin’s in those times. A lot has changed over the years. The Christian Brothers are no longer in St Vincent. That wonderful cadre of men and women that comprised the teaching staff has long since disbanded to various other endeavours in life.

I know many of us past students wish that our St Martin’s was still engulfed in that magical atmosphere of love, hope and excellent academic pursuits and results.  We may not be able to wave a magic wand and reverse the hand of time but what we can do is let the spirit of SMSS live in all of us.

St Martin’s role was to prepare us for life. That is what Mr Butcher was eagerly doing over all those years of his life. So it is up to us to live out the life lessons we learned within it’s happy walls. It was encouraging this year that the child who came first in the CPEA—the exam that replaced the Common Entrance exam, is the son of a past student of St Martin’s Secondary School.

Let us all use whatever talents we have and make our mark. We can still change the world. I believe in doing so, the present crop of students and teachers at St Martin’s will see the rich legacy of the school powerfully at work and that will keep inspiring them to up their game as well.

Mr. Butcher

Our teacher Ezekiel “Scatter” Butcher at school

I end this lengthy but necessary post with the very words Ezekiel “Scatter” Butcher wrote in my graduation souvenir book when I graduated in 1992:

“Go placidly amidst the noise and haste and remember what peace there may be in silence. All the best. May your inspiration come from the Lord at all times.”

save the future

“School shootings are in the news again. An Ohio teenager opened fire on five classmates, killing three students and injuring two others (see raw video from scene at Chardon High School). In Seattle, the 9-year-old boy who brought a gun to school and seriously injured a classmate when it accidentally discharged in his backpack was released on bail, after he appeared in court wearing an orange jumpsuit, in tears.

Children are injured and murdered every day, but school violence carries a symbolic potency because we like to think of schools as safe havens from the harshness of adult life. It’s horrifying to think that the institutions to which we entrust our children for hours every day could be a place of injury or even death.

(MORE: A Parent’s Perspective on the Ohio Shootings: All About Gun Safety in the Home)

But our focus on the word school — and even on whether the shooter was bullied by classmates, as it appears was the case in Ohio — obscures a key issue. The shooters didn’t get their guns at school. The guns weren’t fashioned in wood shop. The guns came from home, and they were obtained by adults.

Politicians and taxpayers like to hold teachers accountable for their students’ failures. Most of the public’s dissatisfaction with education seems to circle back to what’s wrong with teachers, and the assumption that drives our endless rounds of flagellation and reform is the belief that a child’s fate rests largely in the hands of the teacher in whose care he or she spends approximately 1,000 hours per year.

Yet the remaining 7,760 hours are on someone else’s watch: the parents. That’s right, children spend on average only about 11% of their childhood lives in school.

But we rarely talk honestly about what can happen during the other eight-ninths of their waking and even sleeping hours. Children arrive at school poorly nourished and too fatigued to work. They spend too much time on television and too little on exercise. They are poorly socialized in ways that inhibit learning and kindness. They also bring unsecured weapons to school and use them on innocent people, including, sometimes, themselves.

(MORE: Eighth-Grader Killed by Police: What Went Wrong)

There’s an eerie void in our discussions of school violence. Where are the adults? Where is the same cry for accountability in parents when things go wrong at home that we have for teachers when things go wrong at school? We aren’t suggesting that one human being can be responsible for every misstep a child makes. Nor are we suggesting that parents shouldn’t be allowed to make their own, often serious mistakes without fear of being criminalized.

But children are being injured and killed through the shameful negligence of the adults who are responsible for them. Roughly one-third of households with children report owning at least one gun. Forty-three percent of these homes report keeping firearms in an unlocked place, while only 39% of these homes keep the guns locked, unloaded and separate from ammunition, as recommended by the American Academy of Paediatrics and many gun-safety advocates.”

To read this article in its entirety, click on the link below. It is an article you should read as you empower your critical thinking skills.

School Shootings: Do We Blame Parents When Kids Have Guns? | TIME Ideas | TIME.com

The way we celebrate Christmas has been changing quite a bit over the last decade or two. The older citizens would tell us of their days of serenading during the night’s cold hours. Sleeping families would be awaken by a chorus of voices echoing Christmas songs in the lonely and otherwise quiet night.

The use of spirited alcohol has continued to be a favourite drinking choice during this season. So, too, have the traditional black cake and home made bread remained with us. Those of us who grew up in the 20th century would have looked forward to playing with our toy guns. After lunch on Christmas Day, it would have been much “popping” of gun shots among the village boys as they played Shooting.

Of course, toy guns have since been banned after it became clear that the real guns were being heard more than the toys.

A recent addition to Christmas now is the opening up of the stores on Sunday afternoons for shoppers. At first it was a rather relaxing new experience to go into town on a Sunday with one’s family or just to take in the quiet scenes. But now Sunday afternoon shopping has more crowds than even the national Carnival held in the city each year.

It has become a definite boom for the commercial sector. But it also shows that for many people, the importance of Christmas is directly linked to commercial spending and not on heavenly blessings. As the world’s economy finds it harder to keep money in the pockets of the consumer it is safe to predict that Christmas as we know it today is dying a commercial death.

Because Christmas means buying and getting all things physical and new,   when money is hard to come by then persons will not  be able to “celebrate” Christmas any more.

It is then up to those of us who know what Christmas is all about to celebrate Jesus all year round. Our commemoration of His birth in December must never be left to the business community’s ability to afford some sales promotions.

 

if men don't cry...society will

Western societies continue to evolve on all levels. The shifting focus and inter dependency of gender roles on our social well being is taking a somewhat obviously subtle turn towards violence and retribution. In the twentieth century it was the women and children who were regarded as being the helpless ones in the context of situations involving domestic violence or relationship breakdown.

The empowerment of our independently driven women over the last decade has brought a fair deal of balance to the vulnerabilities of the sexes. In fact, our females have almost been enclosed by a legal regulatory frame work that acts as a force shield from the traditional domestic disputes and conflicts.

The socialization of both genders has seen our females in general not being invited to empathize with any emotional vulnerabilities of the opposite sex. The men also have been ruthlessly trained that a critical criteria which determines manhood is to not show any sense of emotional fear, intimacy or failure, especially as it relates to their relationships.

The unwelcomed reality is that after many decades of man being the sexually dominant figure and the economic centrepiece in the home, men are now having to face some hard changes. Their women are no longer willing to just be a frightened puppy when the treacherous situations of cheating and insensitivity pop up in their intimacies. Ladies are actually prepared now to move out and move on with their lives, largely due to the supportive frame work put in place over the years.

On the other hand, men are finding that, as their home lives deteriorate, they have no one or nowhere to really go to for some sort of solace or resurgence. They definitely cannot approach their brethren with whom they hang out and share their inner pain or pending family loss. The vibes from the Gaza culture and Hollywood instant retributive side leaves them with a seemingly easy and cost effective alternative of violence and swift murder.

Each time a man goes on the killing spree and slaughters his girl friend or woman there exists another man somewhere in the dark heartlands of despair, fear and frustration with his own family who is all the more encouraged to follow suit and rid the world of the persons he sees as representing his pain and loss. Such persons in effect have taken away his manhood. And a man without his manhood is no man.

The growing sense of domestic alienation of our men and young boys is sending a strong wake up call for balanced emotional support for the male gender. Many men now seem to have so very little to live for within a happy monogamous relationship. It is far easier for them to just see the need to satisfy their current sex drive and not necessarily to value “settling down” with one woman and their resulting offsprings.

The many teenage boys who have little choice but to become a man before they see puberty because of a missing father represents a flashing amber light in the social dynamics. Upcoming is a generation of tomorrow’s men who have much disappointment, anger, hurt and confusion as to why their should-be role models never stuck around practically in their lives. They have to somehow deal with all the resulting pain before they can even think of having their own successful family.

Women and men have been hurt so much in relationships that a growing percentage of both sexes is starting to have little or no expectations of a future relationship that is built on stability, trust and commitment. The sweetness has been removed from many homes and so there are little incentives to anchor the heart there.

The recent execution of a local nation builder and law-abiding citizen by alleged convicted criminals has open up a most unwanted can of rotting worms in the Vincentian society. On many levels there seems to be a moral fight on to instill in our upcoming generation traditional values of respect for life and human dignity, hard work, submission to authorities and obedience to the laws of the land.

Parents, many of them single mothers, have been struggling to socialize their growing children along the right paths. Teachers and church leaders are up against the tide as well, as they attempt to find new ways to reach today’s youth. Social workers, counsellors and community NGOs are all being exhausted under the weight of a manifesting rebellious generation.

Now that a person who attempted to see that justice prevails in an attempted criminal robbery has been most likely slaughtered by the same persons who he helped to put behind bars it must send shock waves to the rest of the law-abiding citizens in our land.

Think about it. Here is a man, owner of a licensed fire arm, friend and supporter of the police, being murdered in the wee hours of the night right in his own home. Even the way the murder was reported in one of the local papers showed a sense of fear from the writer and editorial team.

The uncomfortable truth seems to be obvious at this stage: those who would try to assist the police in fighting crime and violence will not have the police to aid them when the former accused persons come calling. It means no one is safe from criminal minds.

But that cannot be allowed to remain so. If we are not careful, pretty soon we will have criminals out and about like they are the law and order of the day. The time has come for policing to be done realistically and creatively. In the case at hand, convicted and sentenced offenders are out of prisons and the police were not able to put early protective mechanisms in place to keep one of their public helpers alive. Which Vincentian  will now think of collaborating with the police in putting away criminal elements in the future?

The way the system works, incarcerated people do not remain there forever and upon their release all parties that assisted in their earlier incarceration are left to live as normal. Howbeit the police man the homes of magistrates but not the homes of key witnesses? This recent execution has plunged past attempts of the police at building a positive public relations image. It is bad enough that thugs and criminal elements are allowed to threaten and intimidate persons on a day-to-day basis but to allow them to simply take the life of a law-abiding citizen in his own home is just not good enough.

Police protection is no longer just about the public places during peak traffic hours. It has to be about the private times when people are all alone because that is their family time. Criminals are getting ready it seems to kill at will because they’d say it is as easy as taking candy from a baby. This is serious. The gentleman who was killed in this latest incident had a gun and knew how to use it; even so, he was still killed. So what does that say about other Vincentians who do not own or have techniques to protect their lives when it matters most?

Western societies are showing more and more open tolerance for the rights of the children within its demographic profiles and as such parents and other legal guardians and caretakers are having fewer options available for instilling discipline.

Over the years discipline has come to be somewhat synonymous with punishment or pain. The modern society seems to be saturated with its partnership with corporal punishment. No form of hitting a child or causing them any discomfort is tolerated. So what are parents to do?

First of all, discipline has to be seen as an activity that is happening throughout the life of the child. Too many make the mistake of waiting for the teenage years or for some obvious sign of wrong doing before intervention is made.

Constant communication is vital to effective discipline. Children do in fact love their parents who discipline them so long as it is consistently fair and clear.

The personalities of the parents or guardians must be taken into consideration as well. The disciplinary tactics that work for someone else might not necessarily work for you. Find out the areas that you connect well with your child or ward. What are your particular areas of strength as a parent? Are there some routine practices that yield good results?

There can be some situations that are hard to prescribe a suitable method of discipline, as shown in the picture below, but keep in mind at all times that it is the wellbeing of the child that must be of top priority throughout the disciplinary process.

steal no more

 

If you develop an early sincere relationship with your child from birth, if you keep your promises to your child, if you remain firm and unflinching in your standards then your child will eventually come to the realization that your actions are in her best interest.

Nonetheless, you can still learn from the practices, successes and failures of other parents’ attempts to discipline their children.

It is the norm that a rape victim will do everything to rid herself of the alleged rapist but a situation on the Caribbean island of Trinidad involving rape has had a very exceptional ending.

In 2008 a man was accused of raping a fourteen year old girl. The matter was taken before the law courts and the man was released on bail.

Now, three years later when the case was called, the thirty year old man informed the court that he and the girl, who is now 17 are married. The judge was also told that the married couple has a child. Can you guess how old the child is?

Their daughter is three years old. That will suggest that the pregnancy happened the same year when the rape charges were filed. So what did the judge do after hearing the marital status of the couple? The case was dismissed and the man left the courtroom a free man.

Some may now argue that the initial sexual act may have very well been of a consensual nature. Could it be that the man and the girl were already fond of each other and may have been sexually involved before 2008? It is not uncommon for a female to cry rape only when she has been discovered in the act by a third-party or under threat of exposure.

But a more urgent question is whether having sex with someone under the age of consent carries mandatory penalties. In 2008 the girl would have been just 14 years old.  Maybe, too, the man decided to wed the girl to preempt a custodial sentence imposed on him by the court.

This is a most unusual case but to find a rape victim falling in love with her rapist must make for interesting analysis.

Philadelphia Police Pick up a Teen breaking the 9pm curfew

Last night was a historic occasion that marked a crossing of the Rubicon where government involvement in looking after children is concerned. In a move that has raised some eye brows the city of brotherly love is taking measures to save its teenagers. It seems that many of the parents are unwilling or unable to keep their teens under control.

Unfortunately, the majority of the children who have been congregating by using social media communication services are of black ethnicity. The mayor of Philadelphia, himself a black man, is fed up of the rowdy and antisocial behaviour of teens on the streets.

So what happens to the children who are out after hours?

Their first detention will see them being sent or taken home; in lieu of that they will be taken to the police station where their parents or legal guardians must pick them up. The children can also be fined anywhere between $100 and $300 on the first incident. If there is no involvement by the parents in a relatively short time then the matter will be investigated by the Department of Human Services.
But the parents are also being held accountable for their children’ or wards malpractice. The parents may be called upon to pay a fine of anything below $500. If their children continue to be out late at nights then the parents will be imprisoned for ninety days. And, of course, any damage or injury caused by their children while out after hours will be paid or settled by the parents.

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At last somebody has the grit to do something to save the future. I look forward to such a practice by the law enforcement in my country.
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