Bahamas, I have cautioned again and again not to allow any government to either prick your emotions or use the distress of social ills to get you to support them doing things they have no legal right to do. Minister BJ Nottage said the government plans to detain troublesome youngsters in jail cells as “shock treatment” to teach them lessons about their behavior. The government does not have the legal authority to do such a thing. We are allowing our frustrations about wayward youth (which we as parents hold most to all the responsibility for) to cause us to throw our support behind the government taking yet another step in violating our rights. The government has no lawful authority to detain citizens in jail cells in this country just because they feel like doing so. This is another example of the government carrying out police-state actions under the guise of “fighting crime”, taking your rights from you and getting you to cheer them on while doing so. An action doesn’t automatically become legal just because it is the government that is doing it.
The other important aspect is this – the government is not supposed to be the head of your household – you are. You are supposed to rear your child in the way he or she should go. That is not the government’s job, place or responsibility. Many of the problematic behaviors young people exhibit come from what they are being exposed to or not exposed to in the home. What they are going through in their homes is already daily “shock treatment”. Many young people who are acting out don’t need unlawful “shock treatment” detention in jail cells – they need boundaries, guidance and discipline provided through loving, decent, responsible, supportive and example-driven parenting. Many young people in this country are acting out because of the damage of sexual or physical abuse at the hands of their parent, guardian or relative. Many are acting out because they are unloved and neglected. Many are acting out because they have emotional, developmental or mental health issues that haven’t been diagnosed or addressed. And this is the government’s brilliant new plan to address the myriad of issues facing young people? Unlawfully detaining them in jail cells?
Parents must parent. Governments must govern. Unlawfully detaining a youngster is not the answer to our irresponsibility/neglect/abuse as parents and guardians. Jail cells in this country are not parenting facilities by proxy. The government is not helping you as a parent or helping the nation by acting outside of the law with you and your children. The answer to lawlessness on the part of youngsters is not for the government to act outside of the law with them. Know your rights Bahamas, take personal responsibility in the role of a parent, and stop being quick to throw your support behind what may sound like a good idea on the surface, but what is actually violating your rights as a Bahamian citizen.
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