When death stalks the children-A A +A
Saturday, March 9, 2013
WE’VE seen it coming, but we closed our eyes. Children were involved in riots, but we brushed them off as the perennial troublemakers.
Children were killing people just for the thrill of it, but we attributed that to the environment they are in. “Slums, they live in the slums,” we’d say.
Children were getting involved in prostitution, but we blamed the parents. “Their mothers are to be disdained,” we’d scoff.
We continued with our self-righteous lives, sticking up our noses on the crimes and misdemeanors of the young but never heeding the alarms these were ringing.
Until a child was killed in school. Now what?
We’ve all been young before and we are very familiar with the temper of the young. It’s not even about discernment of right and wrong, it’s acting before being able to discern. But something else was tripped and thus failed to connect – the seeming ‘untouchability’ for the last authority respected… the school.
We’ve seen how these same people taunt policemen as they run hither-thither after breaking out in a riot and the policemen arrive. We’ve read about how a riot broke out during a Misa de Gallo in the San Pedro Cathedral several year ago. We also know that many of these children have dysfunctional families and are not properly guided by their parents. We’ve heard barangay tanods and leaders wait in frustration.
But in school, they slipped out undetected to do their shenanigans.
In the fast decaying society we live in, the school became the last bastion of respect; but no more.
Thus, even as more and more combatants and civilians were being killed in Sabah, my attention would always be drawn back to that crumpled body of a boy in school uniform. Something is definitely wrong, and that something can no longer wait on the sidelines to where our snooty selves have swept similar concerns. This is the school, the institution where we send our children to learn, away from the cares of home and community, insulated from the strife outside and yet given a view of the world. This is the school, where children go, to learn the basic skills and process their thoughts on pressing issues, like watching great white sharks inside an aquarium. They see it, but it cannot touch them.
That is how we thought institutions are. Not anymore.
Somehow, that fills my heart with dread.
Often in office meetings the elders would shake their heads in incomprehension over what the younger employees regard as their way of life.
“That’s what you call generation gap,” I’d often chide those of my generation, who all thought they’ve seen the worst of news, until they saw that crumpled body outside the guardhouse of an elementary school.
No, this is not just about a generation gap, this is a social problem allowed to fester for long because we thought we were better off than get involved in the problem of gang wars and prostituted children.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on March 10, 2013.