In the past week, four children have died—two by accident, two by murder. In all these cases, the direct and indirect failures of adults caused their deaths.
With the two toddlers who died by drowning, the adults in charge simply did not take proper precautions. Jemimah Agard, who was five years old, drowned in the swimming pool at the YMCA in Port of Spain where she had gone for a swimming class with 16 other children. Jemimah had reportedly asked to use the bathroom after the class, and was allowed to go off on her own. When she didn’t return after several minutes, a search was started and she was found at the bottom of the pool.
Jemimah’s relatives have been traumatised, and want answers on how the child died. Why was she allowed to go to the washroom by herself? Why was there no adult at the poolside, especially when small children were on the premises?
The death of Christon Gonzales, who was almost two years old, occurred in a family setting. In this case, the boy slipped out of the house and drowned in a small pool in the yard. According to one relative, the child was attracted to water and had been “boofed” many times for going near the pool. This begs the question as to why, if the pool was known to be a danger, had it not been drained or secured so no child could enter it?
The case of the 15-year-old and nine-year-old brothers who were executed is more complex. Broadly speaking, Jamal Braithwaite and Jadel Holder were the victims of Trinidad and Tobago’s ever-burgeoning criminal culture—but that culture has been created because of decisions made to a large extent by persons in authority, and also because of inaction by adults within the children’s social environment.
Politicians on all sides have been guilty of alliances with criminals in order to garner votes through taxpayer-funded make-work programmes.
And people in hotspot communities have ignored or even defended the criminals in their midst. In the case of these two boys, some adults have even adopted a “they look for it” response, because the children were allegedly involved in robberies.
It is clear that this society has now bred a type of psychopath for whom no act is too heinous. Yet still too many people continue to act as though such killers are aberrations, whereas it is increasingly obvious that amoral callousness can be an effective strategy for success in T&T today. That is the lesson children are learning.