Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A heroine for our time

By Jean Lowrie-Chin | Excerpts from Observer column for MON 27 Jan 2014

(L-R) JACKSON-THOMAS... I am looking for the Nakeia Jackson Act. ELLINGTON... I am Commissioner for all Jamaica
The TV news report was about an ambitious young man from Orange Villa, Orange Street who was shot dead allegedly by the police at his cook shop last Monday.  We saw a young lady step up to the microphone – Shakelia Jackson-Thomas spoke in grieving but measured words about the tragic death of her brother Nakeia Jackson.
The next day, we heard the articulate young woman on Nationwide news calling on the police to show respect to all Jamaicans.  Remaining calm, she repeated this on Cliff Hughes’ ‘Impact’, joining via video a discussion with Commissioner of Police Owen Ellington. 
Shakelia said she had a choice of where she could live, and uses her downtown address with no apologies. “I am a product of the area and I am still proud to live there,” she stated.  “I am looking for the Nakeia Jackson Act,” said The Alpha ‘Convent of Mercy’ High and UWI graduate, calling for innocent young men to be protected. She spoke of her hard working father who set an example to her brother, “someone who worked for honest bread”.
She said that Police should show respect no matter the community in which they were working. The Commissioner assured her “I am Commissioner for all Jamaica.”  He said that INDECOM’s investigations had the full backing of the JCF.  He spoke of the training in citizen interaction conducted for his officers and that there was no excuse for them to be disrespectful to anyone. 
Commissioner Ellington noted that there was a trending down of crime in recent times, but he did not want to dwell on this, as gangsters tend to view such announcements as a challenge to escalate their evil activities.
On the same programme, UTECH Security head Bobby Smith remarked on the brazenness of criminals – his metaphor of them as roaches that no longer hid from the light, but had ‘taken over the kitchen’ was jolting indeed.  Then former senior police officer Renato Adams analysed our crime problem as the result of poor leadership over the past 40 years “unable to direct, control the people coming up.”
We were relieved that the programme ended on a positive note, with Bobby Smith suggesting that the authorities work to educate their ‘captive audience’ as they could actually shorten their prison terms if they obtained four CSEC passes including Mathematics and English.

Unfortunate ‘naming’ of schools
Anyone involved in the education system will tell you that bad behaviour is found at every school, sometimes in children from so-called ‘good families’.  It was therefore unfortunate that certain schools were described as ‘breeding grounds’ for criminals based on a survey. Since the majority of criminals in Jamaica have not been brought to justice, and there are some notorious characters who have attended schools that were not on the list, we could even extrapolate that many of those now behind bars locally are the less hardened criminals!  This would make for a rather interesting piece of investigative journalism.
We empathise with the distressed principals and teachers of the listed schools, many of whom have to be providing far more than education to their students who come from sadly dysfunctional homes and communities. One police officer told me how a grandmother had begged him to take her grandson into the Police Youth Club “to keep him away from bad company”.  The child had neither mother nor father in his life. 
I would encourage the faculties of those “named” schools to join together and help create measures to promote greater parental accountability in the raising of children.  I am sure that the Ministry of Education, still one of our most dynamic ministries, would embrace this approach.

No comments:

Post a Comment