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That smelly child!
Posted: Monday, April 18, 2005

By Linda Edwards

Having read Selwyn Cudjoe's piece on Racism At Brothers Road, the piece on the mother who sold her daughter's body repeatedly to every comer in the village, and the comments of the current moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Trinidad and Tobago carried in the Sunday Guardian of April 17th, I wish to make the following comment:

The teacher in the child-rape incident noticed that the child had a bad body odor, probably the odor of unwashed sex, the odor of pus, something distinct enough to separate it from sweaty children after recess, and she acted on it, thus exposing a horror too awful to be imagined. A horror that sent mothers and others reeling that a child's body could be reduced to a market commodity in this day and age. One commentator noticed that the child lived in a shack surrounded by palaces. Perhaps there was no running water and soap to make a daily bath possible, or maybe, it was the smell of disease, but the teacher took positive action.

In the case of one teacher accused of racism in the Brothers Road incident, a child was also allegedly smelling badly, the teacher publicly humiliated him by saying that he stank, and commented crudely on it in front of others. He also suggested other activities that he deemed appropriate for this child, instead of learning. Did he not also come from a family of cane cutters and planters? The teacher was of a different race from the child, thus leading to the charge of racism.

No one has yet said what the race of the teacher or the child in the rape case was. It may be presumed that they were of the same race, or that the teacher was a trained, experienced and kindly soul, in which case the child is a child, period. I shudder to think what would have happened if this child was of a different race from the teachers at Brothers Road Presbyterian.

One incident of extreme insensitivity to children of another race from the teacher may not warrant the long "explanation" the Rev. Mr. Sukhu felt the need to provide, or his re-affirmation of the sect's position. If the incident happened, it happened. What may have been indicated is the need for re-training the teacher, or the teachers at that school, in the need to treat all of God's children as equally valued people. If teachers cannot do that, please, they need to find other jobs. And how do teachers learn to do that? By training, and re-training, and monitoring, by positive parent involvement in schools, by listening to them, be being concerned about children as little people, and by evolving to a philosophy that all people are equal.

Christ is reported to have said "suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not". Some ignorant people interpret "suffer" as used in that quote, to mean make them suffer, when it clearly means permit them to come to me.

Now if the teacher who "discovered" the multiple rape case thought children ought to suffer, she would have said to the child "God, you stink today, you always smelling bad, you ent take a bath or what", in front of other children, and believed she had done her duty. The situation would have continued.

She did otherwise, and so taught a lesson in caring teaching to the teachers at Brothers Road Presbyterian School. A lesson that the moderator of the Presbyterian Church of TnT could do well to stress to his teachers.

Children are people. They have feelings, and are vulnerable to insults.
Christ worked among the poor.
Those who pretend to work in his name must be judged by their actions towards the least able to defend themselves.
They have to act in loco parentis- in the guise of a wise and loving parent.
Those who cannot work with that love, must find other work.

IT IS AS CLEAR AND AS SIMPLE AS THAT, and so not in need of long explanations.

Teaching is a noble profession, one of the three that Christ did, the others were healing and preaching. It is seriously damaged when people abuse the work of working with children, and long explanations are given in place of remedial training.

I salute that teacher who investigated the bad smell in Central, and praise her name which is unknown to me, but known to Him who loved children.

This piece honours my former teachers- Randolph Telesford, George Daniel, Mildred French-McNish and Dewdrop Emmanuel- caring teachers of my elementary years. The one I am still in contact with is still a nurturer of children.

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