LIES, DAMN LIES AND SURVEYS

Some of the naive nonsense written in support of the police survey used to condemn some schools as producing criminal makes me despair for debate in Jamaica.

On Sunday, January 26, the Gleaner Editorial and resident Government apologist Booklist Boyne wrote two such reviews.  Even before explaining why the survey’s conclusions are flawed, the truth is we shouldn’t have to go there.  Why?  Elementary, my dear Watson.  The survey ought never to have been read.  Or taken seriously.  Three reasons leap out at anybody giving this survey a cursory glance.

Firstly, polling, including this survey, is, like prostitution, a services-for-pay industry.  To take liberty with Disraeli’s famous phrase (later copied by Mark Twain) there are lies, damn lies and surveys.  Before reading surveys, one should identify the sponsors.  Trust me, one day, McDonalds will sponsor a survey that’ll conclude the best and most healthy meal is a truck stop cheeseburger.  This survey, sponsored by an incestuous partnership (police/Government) with a joint objective (to blame somebody else for crime) is no different.

It purports to survey prison inmates but yet it draws conclusions about sources of crime.  So, secondly, this involves two flawed assumptions.  One: all inmates are criminals.  Two:  all criminals are inmates.  Even Jim Jones cult members can work out neither assumption is correct.  Thirdly, our laws (e.g. the criminalisation of Ganja) and enforcement methods target poor black Jamaicans which demographic fills our prisons.  Our justice system ensures that 99% of convicts are poor and black.  Using this flawed sample, three guesses (and the first two don’t count) what the results will be.

After reciting that 75% of inmates with formal education dropped out before Grade 11, you’d think ye olde editorial would wait for the penny to drop regarding the link between LACK OF EDUCATION and crime instead of supporting an appallingly asinine conclusion that certain schools produced criminals.  After reciting that drop-outs were due to expulsion, financial difficulties, lack of support structure and gang/political violence, you’d think ye olde editorial would conclude that it’s factors OUTSIDE OF SCHOOLS more definitively charting the criminal’s path.  After expressing shock that 55% of inmates grew up with both parents, you’d think an editorial would start asking WHERE they grew up and WHAT SORT OF EXAMPLE did these parents offer.  This proves good or bad parenting has no mould. It’s easier for the traditional two but single parents and same sex parents have exactly the same failure/success rates as do traditional parents.  They just have to try harder like black women in the work place.

Instead, this was the editorial’s conclusion:

Clearly this survey…..underlines the need for a broad range of strategies, including in reproductive health and parenting, to deal with the issues.  But we are where we are and schools offer important intervention points at which to confront the glaring weaknesses in social relationships.

In that regard, some schools need it or are better starting points than others.

Well, Ronnie and Co had better hurry up with this intervention since it’d be nice to find the future inmates still in school for the occasion.  Remember, they’re mostly DROP-OUTS.

I’m all for police liasons in schools.  Violence is a feature in ALL Jamaica’s 21st century schools.  I’ve repeatedly called for a focus on teaching violence avoidance in ALL schools as part of our education system overhaul.  The systemic slandering of some schools can’t help.  In “Wanted: New Approach to Crime; Sunday Gleaner April 21, 2013, I wrote:

…..we must commit to educating every child…, regardless of gender, class, creed or religion. It’s an eternal truth that, as society’s education levels increase, crime levels decrease. So, once our education system delivers a sound education and not just a regular visit to torture chambers like GSAT, we’ll see significant crime reduction…..

Our education system needs revamping in recognition of our unique ability to teach violence in schools….. We must approach the issue of crime reduction in a systematic way from within our schools.

…polling science…. can be used to collect data identifying and measuring school issues: staff and student attitudes and behaviour. Based on this scientifically collected data, definitive school-safety programmes can be developed to include classes on problem-solving. Music, chess and bridge, all dispute-resolution aids, should be part of every curriculum.

………a modern, philosophically revamped police force…must be integrated into every school with a police liaison assigned and additional officers committed as needed situationally.

EVERY school needs this.  Finger-pointing might work in election campaigns.  It’s no way to educate.

Peace and Love

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