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Wounded educator cries out

Sunday, February 4, 2018

After viewing a recent newspaper headline entitled “Trigger-happy youth”, it appears that systems continue to fail us daily. Clearly, that renowned quote from our nation’s first prime minister while addressing schoolchildren some 55 years ago, “your future lies in your school bags” is certainly not evident in today’s society. I vehemently believe that scratch bombs and fire crackers in the bags of our nation’s youth never crossed his mind when he delivered that unforgettable speech.

As a secondary school teacher who has been severely affected by the detonation of two scratch bombs outside a classroom in 2017, I have begun asking myself if I have been wasting my time as an educator and mentor to students left under my charge. Is it truly worth being a dedicated and industrious officer who attempts to uphold the ideals of the institution, but in turn meted out with the utmost lack of support, swift action and investigation?

Being diagnosed with Acoustic Shock Disorder and noise-induced hearing loss amongst others, these life-altering repercussions continue to affect my life physically, emotionally, socially and psychologically: persistent right ear nerve pain due to the loss of hair cells, popping and thumping sounds in both ears, noise sensitivity, insomnia, burning sensations in both ears, panic attacks, tension headaches, taking expensive medication with unpleasant side effects, seeking police intervention and counselling therapy, continuous medical bills, missing work regularly due to persistent pain…and the list continues.

To the teacher from that secondary school in Chaguanas, who has been severely traumatised last November by this scratch bomb nightmare…I understand.

To that loving grandmother who has put her life and limb on the line to save her grandchild in 2016…I applaud you for your courage.

To the innocent and law-abiding passers-by afflicted with bodily harm at the hands of these perpetrators…do not lose hope.

To the teachers who continue to toil tirelessly under hazardous conditions with little or no redress…do not stay silent.

The ear-splitting scratch bomb craze continues to plague our schools with little or no resolve to the matter. In my opinion, an illegal scratch bomb in a school facility is equivalent to an illegal weapon. The sad reality is that these horrific explosions continue to be taken as a joke.

It is my deepest desire that the widespread sale of these life-threatening devices, particularly to minors, will be TOTALLY outlawed so that conscientious citizens could continue to exist in peace. Laws need to be seriously revisited and disciplinary action toughened in our nation’s schools. The EMA, together with the Ministry of Education, the National Parent Teachers’ Association, TTUTA, school boards, you name it, need to consistently sensitise our student population if this cacophony needs to cease. Parents, who should be the primary educators of our nation’s children, need to play a pivotal role in their formation and development. It is time as a society that we rearrange our priorities, change our mindset and our approach to life. Be empowered!

San Fernando


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