Where do I sign? The case of the misguided ‘final day’ students
EDITOR: I had the opportunity of entertaining a number of Caribbean Youth Leaders who were in St. Vincent for a Safety in Schools Conference (Natural Disaster Related Conference) which was held at the Haddon Hotel in Kingstown. I took them out on Friday April 26, 2019 and they were in awe at the number of young people that were seen in the road around 8 p.m. Yes, young people were literally in and all over the road disrupting traffic, late in the night. I had to explain that it was the last day of school, even though I could have easily lied and said it was the beginning of Carnival.
What we saw is not what I know our Vincentian youth are capable of.
We left the hotel soon thereafter and returned a little after 11:30 p.m. and to our surprise the school children were still there. We saw young people vomiting. There were those who were so drunk that they could not move and were lying all on the side of the streets. Year after year organizers are given permission to hold these events that cater to some of the most vulnerable and very impressionable citizens of our country and they never end up well. All of this that I am writing is general knowledge. Police, teachers, principals, parents and venues are aware of the outcome every time, but why isn’t this addressed? Our young people are not stray animals that should be left to their own devices, they should be molded and guided. This issue has to be addressed. I humbly suggest the following moving forward;
- That where an event is specifically being marketed to young people, an end time must be enforced by the government body which gives permission. On the last day of school, there should not be children all over the road lying down in their school uniforms, regardless of the fact that it is the “last day” and the uniforms are altered etc. In fact, unless these young people have graduated they are still school children and should be treated as such.
- Increased police presence around town on the day (and consistently) to ensure that alcohol is not being sold to minors and to ensure that they are not participating in other illegal activities.
- The change of the date for signup to after graduation or the same day, but for a controlled time. A curfew must then be set where young person should not be seen in their uniform after a certain hour, which will be decided upon.
- Representatives from the police, teachers, principals, parents, Ministry of Education and students (This is where a National Schools Student’s Council is necessary and should be formulated) to meet biannually to evaluate the most recent final signup day of the year past and to plan for the upcoming event and any other Unified Extracurricular School Activities (especially Inter-school sports). It is time that we are more inclusive and efficient when it comes to decision making.
This list of suggestions is by no means exhaustive, or set in stone, and further suggestions are welcomed. The main goal is to stem this ever increasing issue. We should not have to worry about the welfare of our young people. We should not have to see them lying on the side of the streets drunk and acting disorderly, especially when they are still school students. We can stop this. We need to.
Christopher J. Grant
Founder – Peace4SVG