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Still too many young people slipping through the cracks

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This time of the year tends to be a joyful one for many of our young people who are transitioning from one phase of their academic life to another.

Elaborate graduation ceremonies, from every level, beginnng with pre-school, right up to the university level, are now the norm, as families and educational institutions celebrate the acccomplishments of our young people. Many of the stories of the successful are features in the pages of SEARCHLIGHT.

But the excitement associated with celebrating the majority sometimes obscures the fact that despite the tremendous gains made in education in St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), there are still some young people, too many, who fall through the cracks and become a burden on society, rather than contributing to its development.

There is no single reason why this happens; most likely it is a combination of factors, which may include learning disabilities, abuse, parental neglect and peer pressure.

But when our young people fall far short of achieving their potential, come to the attention of our justice system or have their lives prematurely cut short, we can’t help but ask why. Was there anything we could have done differently?

This generation of adults — parents, teachers, community members, police officers, journalists, church leaders and policy makers, among others — must ensure that when our performance is weighed in the balance, we are not found wanting.

This week alone, two stories which suggest that supervision at some of our secondary schools may be inadequate were published by the media; one of these stories appears in this issue. We hope that the incidents which were highlighted are exceptions; for if they point to systemic or institutional deficiencies, they need to be fixed now.

In this edition, we also feature a story of a young man who was gunned down at the tender age of 17.

Of course, some children resist the best efforts of parents, teachers, pastors and society and go their own way. But if at all stages of a child’s development, the home, school and community work in tandem in the best interest of the child, the chance of that youth going astray is greatly diminished.

Children crave order and discipline in their lives, even if they protest when we try. Experts say sometimes children misbehave because they are hoping we will lay down the law. In short, as adults, we need to take back control of our homes, schools, churches and communities. We do this by fulfiling our varied responsibilities to our young people. Let us not be found wanting in the balance; the country’s future depends on our performance today.

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