Graphic videos rocked the nation this week. In its wake: murderous threats and dancing on the graves of promising careers that vanished like a vapour. The Non-Governmental Coalition has been crying in the wilderness about this child abuse problem for sometime now. Suddenly, a little more than the tip of the iceberg has burst into the light of day. The good news is that there is no better time than now to wrest ourselves from the mire of gossip. We have no choice but to act now in order to transform Dominica. But how exactly do we do that?
First, let us survey the setting. The cat is out of the bag. Already, some are feeling the crushing weight of justice. Not much can be swept under the bed this time. Yet, according to unsubstantiated rumours, for the same violation, some are reportedly arrested while others are helicoptered out for stress. This better not be the case! Nevertheless, there’s lots of blame to go around, so why not start at the very beginning. A childhood experience may shed some light:
I’ll never forget how Dadai got me into the ‘blackbook’ at Grammar School. One afternoon, a gang of us were playing with the roller on the cricket pitch after the grounds-man had taken his precious time preparing it. The only person he recognized from a distance was that Christian boy. Next morning, the princi called me out at assembly to meet him in his office. Though trembling, I argued that it wasn’t me alone therefore, I was not going to take the caning. At the same time, I absolutely refused to sell out my friends. So I walked out of school and announced my decision to my father at the Fire Brigade. Well, who tell me to say that?! He marched me right back to school to “take my punishment like a man.”
How do parents today react when their student gets into trouble? More often than not, they storm in, to confront the teachers or bombard Ministry of Education with complaints. TV and video games babysit their children and discipline is left for the schools. The common thread among children who get into such scandals is no chores, no curfew, no monitoring of homework, no dress code.
Do parents ask their daughters where that latest model cell phone came from? It’s 99 nights for the thief, one for the watchman. One day you must get caught. Women at the bread shop who saw the videos were harshest in their criticism. They loudly contended no way it could have been the first time, given the young lady’s techniques and private appearance. Single mothers are known to use their daughters as honey traps for men of weak judgement. But at the end of the day, this is still a child that has been taken advantage of.
Of course, the predators have no excuse. Thank God this scourge is nothing like the level of sex tourism inflicted upon youth in places such as Thailand and the Philippines. But should we also think about the families of accused? The economic loss is profound. Powerful men have strong impulse to buy off and/or explode on others who they perceive as selling them out. There is an equally scary inclination to implode and end the embarrassment once and for all. Loved ones must encourage guilty parties to take their punishment like a man. At the same time, they need to build a firm hedge of support around them to salvage much of the residual good in that family.
We all make mistakes. This article is certainly not about throwing the first stone. It is a call to redemption, mindful that no matter how severe the crisis, this too shall past. We have to drum it into our heads that there are certain red lines in the sand that grown men dare not cross. When a pardna, or our ‘little brain’ hisses, “Damn! This chick is hot!” Our ‘big brain’ should be thinking, “Ailas. She could be my daughter.”
Many take perverse pleasure in such scandals to the extent that it validates their apocalyptic beliefs. The church is increasingly becoming place of escape instead of a sanctuary to recharge and go forth to impact the culture.
Will this development have any bearing on the “rapist ministers” lawsuit? There have been casualties aplenty and potentially more to come. Will we continue to tear into each other for that pound of flesh, or will we go back to our neutral corners and think this through? Politicians are consumed with getting advantage for next election. Statesmen are consumed about securing advantage for the next generation. Statesmen mentor and make preparation for the youth, not prey upon them. Development is too precious a thing to leave entirely in the hands of politicians; so what is our responsibility?
This great downfall should spur responsible citizens into service organizations. Let us form a national PTA association. Parents and teachers must speak with one powerful voice on matters that affect our kids. Give your strong support the Non-Governmental Coalition for the Prevention of Abuse of Children. Any child can make use of the Cadet Handbook as a guide for wholesome conduct.
I myself, I am tired of urging the use of rape kits to bring Dominica up to international standards. I am going to secure and distribute kits so the prosecution does not have to depend on hearsay. The legal process should not be a second victimization. The devil prowls around like a roaring lion. Sadly, he is doing some serious devouring as we speak. We create a more caring culture as we explore more proactive ways of inculcating good ideas into the heads of our children.
Maj. Sam Christian in a syndicated columnist on health-related development issues. He is the medical officer of the Dominica Cadet Corps. He can be reached at 767 440-9133 on by clicking on http://urgentcareda.weebly.com