Illiteracy is one of the main reasons for crime.
How often have we heard that the culprit was a school
Learning disabilities are common.
Thursday last, an admirably peeved and cynical Tony Lee,
on the Tony and Dale radio show, was heard to comment that,
in the midst of the mindless weeping and wailing and gnashing
of teeth over the raped death of Hope Arismandez, the English
football team was about to arrive in T&T and by nightfall
the headlines in the press would be about them.
So said, so done. The CNC-3 seven oclock news opened
with pictures of little Beckie with the sweet, sweet thongs
being greeted by the big man himself, Jack Warner, and Hope
was relegated to number two on the hit parade.
Barely 48 hours had passed between the time her decomposing
body had been found by policemen allegedly taken there by
her mothers lover and the arrival of a second class
English football team who could not make it to the European
championship starting next month.
Not a problem for our little colonial minds, their bus was
swamped the next day by adoring local women, swooning for
a taste of good English beef, but you had was to be
on the English team. Our own little white boy,
Chris Birchall, had to be content with mingling among local
and international media at a press gathering the following
day and complaining about not getting a pick.
However, do not fear, Trinidad is here and soon that new
Americanism so dear to our hearts, Breaking News!
Breaking News! informed us that the presumptive
killer of Hope was, in his turn, dead, supposedly by suicide.
We must all be so stupid to believe that, as the Sunday
Guardian put it, a high profile...prisoner, in a top-security
remand section, presumably under suicide watch (he
had spoken of taking his own life), committed suicide
by either cutting his wrists and then hanging himself (first
report) or, alternatively, slitting his throat and then
hanging himself (second report).
The mind boggles at the thought. He killed himself twice?
How did he manage it? How did he get the razor blade? Did
he cut his wrists first and then, dissatisfied at the rate
of bleeding, tie something around his neck and around a
beam, climb up onto a chair and kick it away? Did he first
cut his throat, then loop the bed sheet around his neck,
climb up, jump off, fall down?
What did he die of? Bleeding? Asphyxiation? A broken neck?
How can anyone call this suicide until we have the autopsy
More to the point, we will never know the truth about who
killed Hope. This man confessed after 48 hours in police
custody. The police claim he led them to the body. All of
this may be quite true but what if it is not?
According to our excellent English system (ah hah!), a man
is presumed innocent until proven guilty by trial by a jury
of his peers. We have seen similar shenanigans in previous
childrens deaths. Then it is possible the real murderer
is still at large?
Alternatively, if the police are correct, was this his first
victim? Are there others out there who lived in fear because
of him? Was he part of a group of paedophiles? How are we
to find out the answers to these questions now? A convenient
The first reports suggested Sunil Ali was a school drop-out.
Subsequent reports describe him as a smart individual.
Doesnt this ring a bell with anyone? How often have
we heard that the culprit was a school drop-out? Worse,
a smart school drop-out?
Is this possible? Of course. There are children in school
who look just like you and me, who behave in the first few
years of school just like you and me, who end up as school
drop-outs. These are children with hidden disabilities,
ie, they look and behave normal but there is something wrong
with their brains or their minds, and the most common of
these is a child with a learning disability.
Learning disabilities are common, maybe five per cent of
the population and unless these children are diagnosed they
fail school, drop out, become delinquents and end up in
a gang or dead by 30.
In last Sundays Guardian, Dennis Hall, better known
as Sprangalang, one of the most acute observers of the Trini
scene and perhaps the most misunderstood of our local commentators,
said in an interview with Clevon Raphael that illiteracy
is one of the main reasons for crime. He is correct.
Although we do not have local statistics, anecdotal reports
from our psychologists corroborate international figures
that up to 50 per cent of men incarcerated cannot read or
write and most of these have either a learning disability
or suffer from Attention Disorder Hyperactive Disease or
Worse! We know that up to two per cent of children are super
intelligent. What happens to an intelligent little boy,
situated in a classroom with a tired, bored, vapsy teacher
who fails to recognise the potential in the eager, bright-eyed
child who knows every answer but cannot keep still like
his less intelligent companions? Whaps! Licks! Out the classroom!
Yes, it is possible to be a school drop-out, and smart,
and end up in prison. Think of the hundreds coming up!