THE video that showed adults at the Children’s Emergency Hostel beating the youngsters in their care was shocking enough – but yesterday added one further shocking twist to the incident.
A woman who said she worked at the centre rang in to a radio talk show and protested that “if you don’t beat, the children will beat you”. She added: “If you don’t discipline the children the children will discipline you.”
If indeed this caller was one of those workers, she is clearly unrepentant – and seemingly out of control of the children in her care if her only solution was to resort to violence.
Sadly, she also talked of having been beaten herself as a child, while protesting that she had done nothing wrong to warrant the punishment she received as a young girl. If ever there was an example of the cycle of violence that goes on for generations, it is right there.
Too many times, we hear people justifying the beating of children by saying it used to happen to them as a child and it didn’t do them any harm.
It’s even worse in this case, as it seems clear this woman still thinks back to the time when she was beaten and protests about how unjustified it was.
This idea that it is perfectly permissible to raise a hand – or a fist, or a stick – to a child is far too widespread. Resorting to violence with a child isn’t a way to keep control, it’s a sign that you’ve already lost control.
We applaud Social Services Minister Frankie Campbell for his response in swiftly ordering an investigation. We also applaud PLP MP Glenys Hanna-Martin for her comments in today’s Tribune, in which she says “it is totally unacceptable that children under the watch of the state are subject to abhorrent and cruel treatment”.
In applauding both, we would agree with her suggestion of a bi-partisan commission. If both sides are already in agreement that this should not happen, then why not go one step further and have both sides working together to make sure this doesn’t happen again?
Any solution that only deals with this specific incident is not looking hard enough at the environment that allowed this to happen at all. If people charged with such care are untrained, unable or unwilling to recognise that violence against children is unjustified, we need to know how they were placed in such a position of trust. There’s no use removing them from a position if you only put someone in the same post that will do the same thing over again.
How are these staff trained and monitored? How is the health and care of the children assessed? Not just in this hostel, but in every child care facility across The Bahamas?
This is a time for a bi-partisan approach, and it needs to be guided by one goal – no more violence. If we teach our children that violence is acceptable, how can we be surprised that we have a society with violence that is far too commonplace?
This needs to be a line that we draw in the sand – and we can do that together.
Use our experts
It seems very obvious – but a question has been raised by medics asking why the vaccine consultative committee doesn’t have more healthcare professionals on it. There are some leading lights of society on the committee – but not that many doctors. Church representatives, university representatives, people from the Office of the Prime Minister… but other than Dr Merceline Dahl-Regis, who leads the committee, Dr Danny Davis, a Ministry of Health consultant, and public health nurse Stephaine Dean, there’s a shortage of medical expertise.
As the head of the Consultant Physician Staff Association, Sabriquet Pinder-Butler, asks, where are the immunisation specialists, IV infections disease specialists, other members of the healthcare team, experts in emergency medicine, family medicine, and so on.
Indeed, seeing the involvement of the religious community and communications specialists, it almost looks as though the committee is there to convince people to take the vaccine rather than to plan how it will be distributed.
There is absolutely a place for wider society – we have said in this column that other countries have shown that casting a wide net in finding ways to distribute the vaccine quickly has paid off – but we have plenty of great medical minds in this country. Let’s use them.