THE video showing children being beaten in an emergency care home is shocking in many ways.
The first is the brutality. When watching the video – and be warned, it is hard to watch – you can see the pain in the children’s reaction as full-grown adults take a stick to them. Some of the children look very young too – far too young to be able to resist the violence inflicted on them by these adults.
The second way is that you can see the children anticipating the pain. Some try to edge away or refuse to come close to the adults. It looks very much as if they know what is coming, because this seems so commonplace for them.
The third way is the apparent glee with which the adults treat the whole situation. Some seem to be laughing or clapping as children are brutalised in front of their eyes.
The fourth way is that not one of the adults in that room stands up for the children and says no, this is wrong.
Every indication in that video – even as you see two adults team up to hold a child down onto a table to beat them – is that this is nothing out of the ordinary for the adults in that room. This is the incident on video. There is no reason to believe that this has not happened before. If nothing is done, there is no reason to believe it will not happen again.
We applaud Minister of Social Services Frankie Campbell in launching an investigation. We applaud him further for saying clearly that “in no way, form or fashion do we support any form of abuse against children, adults, girls, boys (or) women. No form of violence or abuse, we do not support it any way, form or fashion”.
The people in this video, whoever they are, carried out this action without fear of punishment. They did this because they could, and they did it in the expectation that they would face no repercussions.
We would urge Mr Campbell to ensure the investigation is carried out quickly and thoroughly. We would also urge him to ask why these people thought they could get away with this – and how many others in a position over children also think they can get away with such behaviour.
The issue of children being beaten is one we have never fully grappled with. Even the Minister of Education, Jeff Lloyd, said back in 2018 that school beatings – corporal punishment - must be a last resort only, adding that “Unfortunately, as a society, that is the first option we run to”. He spoke again on the subject in 2019, saying that Bahamians must decide what they want the government to do in relation to corporal punishment.
Is this the legacy we want to leave our children, that brutality is accepted, that there will be no consequences for such an abuse of children?
This is not one incident in isolation – this is an example of how too many children are treated. For their sake, that must change.
So easily pushed?
It’s hard to find words for just how pathetic the apology from Police Commissioner Rolle is for his statement that some of last year’s suicide victims were “weak men” who killed themselves because they were having problems with their partners.
He said sorry, but then he blamed his words on “pushy journalists”.
Just to be clear, the leader of the Royal Bahamas Police Force, in charge of a vast number of men and women and challenged with tackling crime levels, can be pushed into saying the wrong thing by a journalist asking a simple question.
He said: “What I do know is that there were about three cases which we identified as domestic-related based on info we got from their friends or their family. (The press) asked me, why is that and I said ‘I don’t know, maybe it’s just that you have weak men’. That’s the context in which I said it. I apologise to those families and it was not intended to be that way. This is what happens when you have pushy journalists who refuse to accept the explanation given.”
In a turn of phrase he might also regret given today’s lead story, he says he “took my spanking and we move on”.
He shows no indication in his apology of understanding the issues he treated so lightly, and no indication of changing anything about the way in which such cases are treated.
In other words, commissioner, it’s not just what you say, it’s what you’re going to do about it.
Meanwhile, Minister of National Security Marvin Dames has backed the commissioner in saying COVID had nothing to do with the drop in crime. This comes despite Commissioner Rolle himself saying the spike in murders at the turn of the year could be related to factors including “loosening of restrictions”. If you think the commissioner is taking you for a fool over the crime drop, then the minister is too.