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Real tragedy is this could happen every day

Guilty verdict: Kiahna Trott-Edwards is escorted from Supreme Court this week after being convicted of the murder of teenager Shijuan Mungal last September. The case highlights the depth of societal breakdown in Bermuda (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

The just concluded murder trial of Kiahna Trott-Edwards is as good a case as any to exemplify the depth of societal breakdown in Bermuda.

Two people, unknown to one another before that fateful day on September 8 last year, thrust into a narrative that has brought despair to two families.

The courts have determined that Trott-Edwards is a murderer and that she should be subjected to a lengthy spell of incarceration for causing the death of Shijuan Mungal.

But she is not your run-of-the-mill murderer; not the kind who plots, and dodges and weaves while leaving behind a trail of destruction.

Perhaps that may be taken into consideration when the sentence is delivered. Perhaps.

Nevertheless, the wider picture, especially with school now back in, is disturbing.

Young people showing disregard and disrespect towards their elders. In particular, people they don’t know.

On the roads, in public places, on public buses.

Every mother will tell you that she has the greatest son who would do anything for you and who is loved by everyone. Which, translated, means all his friends.

However, what is at the heart of the problems Bermuda faces with segments of our young people is how they relate to strangers — Bermudian or foreign, white or black, resident or tourist. In particular, someone who does not necessarily make the best first impression.

It is very possible that after a third, fourth or fifth meeting, the relationship between the convicted and the deceased might have been nothing but cordial ... respectful. We will never know that now and throughout this Island there are similar flashpoints just waiting to happen.

Accentuate the positive, the media are often told. And we do that. There are stories to put a smile on the face every day because as a community we do far more good than we do bad.

This newspaper has been overrun by students achieving over and beyond, which shows what can happen if you apply hard work to decency. (See BHS, Warwick Academy and Saltus exam results)

The number of citizens with love in their hearts who will do anything they can to uplift and inspire is overwhelming. (See the myriad back-to-school events of the past fortnight)

But we’ll be damned if we sweep the negative under the carpet as if it does not exist. That would make us complicit in the failings of families who have let down their guards in relation to the upbringing of their young.

Rearing a child does not end with getting them through primary school and out the door for secondary school, where peer pressure and abuses of new-found independence can result in a different person returning home than what was sent out. It requires full involvement and guidance when necessary. And, yes, even disciplinary action.

Facebook was rife yesterday with implications that “it was going to kick off today”. Between whom? Does it really matter? The reality is that there are those among us itching for a physical confrontation.

If only chemistry lessons were so basic that we could “just add water” and open a universe of understanding, but seemingly that is all it takes in today’s world, in which the theme appears to be “hit first, ask questions later”.

The common excuse is to blame confrontational attitudes on the Government, the economy and the pressures that people are feeling, thus making poor behaviour instead a political fireball that takes on a life of its own — much in the way that the comments section of the well-intentioned story spirals into senseless oblivion once the social media trolls book in for bed and breakfast.

But that is a cop-out. As our columnist Al Seymour alluded to this week, you cannot put a price on good manners. It is the responsibility of every parent, whether you are a single parent or have the “perfect family” with white picket fence to boot, to see that the execution of those good manners is not reserved for a select few.

Otherwise, we are destined for generation after generation of rude people. So much so that the line that Bermudians are naturally friendly would be exposed as tired and insincere. For we would know that not to be true.

More appropriate might be: “Have chip on shoulder; will act out. Just add water.”