Editorial

Easing stress levels among professionals very important

Monday, November 25, 2019

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Jamaicans are understandably bothered by ugly confrontations involving public sector employees and those they are employed to serve.

It's now commonplace, for example, to hear of verbal and physical clashes between teachers and students, health workers and patients.

We hear suggestions from time to time that these incidents are somehow new.

Yet, it seems to this newspaper that, if Jamaicans are honest with themselves, it will be readily realised that what's new is that these ugly incidents are being brought to light.

In that respect, we find extremely instructive, a comment from an unnamed retired teacher, published in the Sunday Observer, relating to the recent infamous verbal clash between teacher and student at a Kingston high school.

Needless to say, the unsettling incident was caught on cellphone, apparently by a student, and circulated like wildfire on social media.

The unnamed retired teacher says:

“What was that child doing using his or her phone in the class? ...in my time, no one could bring a phone in my class, unless it was properly concealed.

“The use of phones to capture everything these days is quite worrying to me and it is something that we as a nation must look into. There are certain things that do not belong in the public domain...”

Surely, though, it can't be bad that this incident has come to light? Surely, the society is better off having become aware of it. Surely, transparency is good.

Which leads us to wonder: What if not so long ago when corporal punishment was accepted as normal and useful there were cellphones around to capture and circulate some of the awful beatings some called it 'murderation' meted out to children in schools?

Many today who remember those days recognise sadism.

And, while many, if not most high schools insist that cellular phones are disruptive and should not be brought to class, it seems to us that such rules will struggle to stand the test of time, since the rapidly evolving instrument is a hand-held computer a superior learning tool.

The average cellphone is cheaper than most tablets and laptop computers which, as we understand it, are not forbidden in most schools.

However, to get back to the substantive point, this newspaper is not prepared to condemn the teacher in the recent incident who has explained that she “lost it” presumably because of stress and perceived provocation.

It seems to us that the society would do well to start exploring ways to ease the stress levels among professionals in our service sectors which lead to such troubling incidents.

We note a suggestion that there should be mechanisms to help teachers who may be under stress or are struggling to cope.

Just as guidance counsellors are employed in schools to assist students deal with psychological and related issues, so too stressed-out teachers need help.

The same principle could apply to many others in public service, including the health sector.

Also, we believe, not everyone is suited as schoolteacher, health care worker, et al. That's an aspect which the individuals themselves, as well as institutions which train, place, or employ them, need to take on board.


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