THE revelations in this week's Sunday Observer of irregular conduct by students of various schools across the Corporate Area and beyond at the Half-Way-Tree Transport Centre must be taken seriously.
Reports, all of which were corroborated by the police, that schoolchildren were openly flouting the law bring into sharp focus a predicament that our country must address in a serious way if meaningful progress is to be made in coming years.
It has been said quite often that our children represent our future, but if we are to go by what was on display at the Half-Way-Tree Transport Centre when the Sunday Observer visited twice last week, then our future looks severely bleak. In fact, put it in Jamaican parlance, 'wi corna dark' if we do not deal quickly with what has the potential to cause irreparable damage to the fabric of society later on.
The fact is, children often congregate at the transport centre after school, and spend hours idling, instead of going home. They only seem inclined to exit the facility when adults begin to leave work, somewhere in the region of 4:30 and 5:00 pm, thus cluttering the bus system.
The upshot is that older folk seek alternative means of travel, thereby reducing the Jamaica Urban Transit Company's revenues.
The other fact, a quite frightening one, is that some of the youngsters are quite violent, judging from the many detentions made by police at the centre, and the weapons that are often confiscated, including knives, scissors, ice picks, sharp pieces of metal, and guns.
We believe that the schools need to play a greater role in informing students of the imperatives of not loitering at this and other public facilities. A simple announcement at devotion time that children should head home after school will not, we suspect, do the trick. It will take a broader, more concentrated effort at sensitising the youngsters about the gains that can be achieved if they go straight home and apply themselves to their studies.
Probably, in the interim, the schools could have some of their administrative representatives randomly visit the transport centre which, we believe, could assist in improving the conduct of the children.
Another proposal which was floated to us yesterday is to change the fare structure after 5:00 pm to adult fares only. Some people may view that as a bit of a stretch but, at the very least, the idea should be discussed.
What we should ensure, however, is that we do not allow this problem to fester to the point where we take decisions that may not be popular, but which must be implemented if our sanity and dignity are to be preserved.