Our kids did not become boorish overnight

April 05, 2019

As a parent of a student at Calabar High School, I am not proud of the behaviour I saw in those videos that went viral earlier this week, which involved members of the student body at devotion.

However, I am glad it happened because it has given us, as a society, an opportunity to take a long, hard look at ourselves.

The laws of physics and, by extension, nature say that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. The genesis of this abhorrent behaviour in the particular instance goes back to the incident that occurred on December 15, 2018, between physics teacher Sanjaye Shaw and the members of the high school’s track team. That incident became public four days before Champs.

There is enough blame to go around for all the parties involved in that situation – the teacher, for taking mattresses that he had no right to; the athletes, for acting as they did; and the school, for not being more proactive in dealing with the matter.

However, what resulted was public backlash against the athletes and their team leaders. Therefore, they went into Champs like wounded animals. Kingston College rubbed salt into those wounds when they thrashed Calabar, dethroning them and breaking their record for most points ever accumulated.

From his lofty perch, John Public piled on disparaging remarks until last Monday morning, when the kids reacted.

A common comment I heard this week was, “Oh, that could never happen at my school. Our teachers would never allow that.” You could not find more filth in a cow pasture, and it speaks to the ridiculous hypocrisy that permeates our delusional society.

There was a time when Calabar students were afraid to go to Cross Roads out of fear of being attacked. There was a time when passengers and bus crews were terrified of students of Jamaica College. There was also a time when KC students terrorised North Street and its environs. This is not new.

Jamaica has long been a homophobic society and has been an increasingly violent one. Where do you think these kids learnt their behaviour? They did not become boorish overnight.

It was good that the schools managed to mend fences by way of at a joint devotion on Wednesday morning, but it changed nothing. This is but another Band-Aid over a much larger wound that our society is failing to confront and address.

We might look down at Calabar High School for the behaviour of the students and the failure of their leadership, but if we are to be honest with ourselves, this is not exclusively a Calabar problem. No. The embarrassing behaviour we saw at Calabar is not just a poor reflection of the school; it is a poor reflection of all of us.

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