Security alone can't fix this

Jean Lowrie-Chin

Monday, October 08, 2012    

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So now that two thugs attacked a teacher in front of her Grade 6 class at Dunrobin Primary, there are moves to improve security at that and other schools. Just in case you missed it: a student was scolded by the teacher, so the child called for "back-up in the form of two thugs who signed in at the school's gate last Monday morning with fake names and proceeded to the classroom.

The Jamaica Observer's Kimmo Matthews reports: "Two knife-wielding men yesterday assaulted a female grade six teacher in front of her students at the Dunrobin Primary School in St Andrew, leaving the nearly 40 children severely traumatised. The teacher, according to one student, was hit repeatedly in the face, kicked in the throat and stabbed at as she fell. She was admitted to hospital ... 'The knife caught her on her lip and she fell to the ground and was bleeding,' a student told the Jamaica Observer. The incident occurred at approximately 9:30 am while the teacher was going through the day's lesson with her students."

The report continued: "Chaos ensued on the grade six block as frightened students dashed from their classrooms while teachers rushed to ascertain what was happening. The teacher was found on the classroom floor, unconscious and with blood streaming from her face."

Surely we see in this dastardly attack, an imperative much bigger than improved security. No security guard, no police officer, no soldier can straighten out a society that is now bent to this point of brokenness.

This is a time when every minister of government, every member of parliament and every parish councillor should be pounding the pavement, working like they have never worked before, strategising to address this national crisis. I remember a politician's description of the days leading up to one of our general elections. He described the intensity of the campaign: "We drank gallons of coffee. We were a think-tank that never slept."

Now it seems our political representatives - PNP and JLP - are sleeping soundly, deaf to the cries of their people. Can they know what happened at Dunrobin and not be very, very afraid for us, the precious voters they courted so sweetly? May we suggest that first they need to turn up at Gordon House for those sittings and meetings. Notwithstanding their efficient SUVs, too many are having attendance issues. And so, the laws to protect us from scammers and gangs stay on the back burner, making Jamaica "the place of choice for thugs to live, 'eat-a-food' and spawn more thugs".

We know that many of these evil characters were nurtured not by one, but by both political parties. They are the products of garrisons where our Jamaican brothers and sisters have been so enslaved that they wouldn't know real freedom if it stared them in the face. They were brainwashed to believe that freedom is "freenis", that they were not good enough to amount to anything, so they had to depend on their "good-good" leaders.

May I speak on behalf of those business owners, large and small, those professionals in health, education and security who work long shifts to provide jobs, keep their families fed and their mortgages paid? Government and Opposition should know that we are weary and battered by the increasing economic and social challenges.

We are asking those decent officials to be courageous enough to bail their colleagues out of their moral bankruptcy. They are doing mortal harm to Jamaica. Do you believe that the international community is not observing the hypocrisy - nice words in nice surroundings, while constituents protest against their unliveable environment on the nightly news? Some folks like to criticise the angry, aggressive voices of the inner city. They should know that the voice of protest is a cross between a shout and a cry. That's the sound of frustration and desperation. If only we had helped more to gain an education instead of keeping them in perpetual deprivation.

Int'l Day for Older Persons

Last Monday we observed the International Day for Older Persons at a joint presentation on "Ageing in the 21st Century" by UNFPA and HelpAge. Mrs Geeta Sethi, UNFPA representative for the Caribbean described the increasing life expectancy of humans as "a triumph of development". Now we must look to prepare for our "dependent elderly" who will make up 11 per cent of Jamaica's population by 2030.

Jeffrey James of HelpAge made a timely call for geriatric clinics, similar to our local paediatric clinics; he was strongly supported by advocate Laurna Thomas Bromfield who described the treatment of older persons at clinics as "a thorough disgrace". To the authorities, let us remember: one day - if we're lucky - we'll be elders too.

Depression - a global crisis

As we look to World Mental Health Day this Wednesday, October 10, we salute Mensana, formed in Jamaica in 1997. This is a support group of people who are affected by, care for others, or live with mental illness. A member of the group, the dynamic Carol Narcisse told us that the annual observance of World Mental Health Day promotes open discussion of mental disorders, and investments in prevention, promotion and treatment services. This year the theme for the day is "Depression: A Global Crisis".

Mensana meets at 10 am every second Saturday of each month at 11 Caledonia Avenue, Kingston 5. As part of the calendar of events for Jamaica's Mental Health Week, Mensana will stage its annual fund-raising Soup Day and public awareness event hosted by the generous Pat Donald on Saturday, October 13 at 21 Herb McKenley Drive (formerly Roosevelt Avenue).To support the venture contact Carol at 430-4705,; or Dawn Marie Roper, 778-1336,





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