Prayer wanted back in schools

Sister Islands MLA Julianna O’Conner-Connolly said in the Legislative Assembly the Government should take a strong look at having prayer in the public schools.

‘On the surface, it is easy for the response to come that there is nothing to stop prayer,’ she said during her contribution to the budget debate on Monday.

However, whether there is prayer in a classroom depends on the individual teacher, she said.

‘There must be consistency. If we are a Christian nation… we should say there is going to be prayer in our schools.’

Ms O’Connor-Connolly said Godly principles have been essential to success of the Cayman Islands. However, external pressures are changing things.

‘We have allowed outside cultures to dilute the foundation of these Islands,’ she said, referring to Cayman’s strong Christian heritage.

Ms O’Connor-Connolly said there were many social ills affecting the young people in the Cayman Islands, and she spoke specifically about the Sister Islands.

The Bracanal parade drew her ire because of the attire, or lack of it, of the young female participants.

‘When I stood there and saw that, I almost went into cardiac arrest,’ she said, saying the young girls were dressed only in what she would call g-strings.

Ms O’Connor-Connolly said there were those who would argue that the Government cannot legislate morality.

‘We should not have to legislate it,’ she said. ‘It should be innate. We should have the decency not to let our young girls dress like that.

‘And to see the way they were, quote unquote, dancing… If there were parade marshals rating it they would have to say it was triple X rated.’

Ms O’Connor-Connolly said someone in Government had to be bold enough, even if it meant losing an election, to speak out about these kinds of things.

‘Now is the time,’ she said. ‘It’s not too late. We cannot afford to lose another generation to these social ills.’

Underage drinking is another problem on Cayman Brac that Ms O’Connor-Connolly spoke about.

‘I am dismayed to see increasing use of alcohol by people, especially by those 11 and under in Cayman Brac.’

The problem with underage drinking is growing, she said, adding that she has seen young people struggling to walk out of establishments and losing control of their bodily functions.

‘We are losing our young people – a lot of them – to alcohol,’ she said.

Ms O’Connor-Connolly questioned how young people were able to get alcohol in the first place, and whether it was a case of establishments selling to under-aged people, or of older people buying it for them.

Speaking about education, Ms O’Connor Connolly said there were some social ills that new buildings alone could not correct.

A three-pronged approach is needed for Cayman’s education, which includes a first-class infrastructure, a good curriculum and a strong relationship between the student, teacher and parent.

‘Funding and policy must address all three,’ she said.

Ms O’Connor-Connolly spoke of the abolishment of using corporal punishment as a disciplinary measure in Cayman’s schools.

‘Through coercion, they have removed corporal punishment in school,’ she said. ‘Our constitutional masters in England, without proper consultation, told us we had to take the strap out of the school and… by extension from the home.’

Ms O’Connor-Connolly said the Cayman Islands was only as strong as its weakest child and called on all legislators to put their responsibilities to Caymanians first and foremost.

‘While we’re playing the petty political games, our children are suffering,’ she said.

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