‘BAD WORD’ IN BOOK ANGERS PARENTS - Authorities plan to withdraw text for toddlers
The Early Childhood Commission (ECC), which oversees education at the infant- school level, has taken issue with what they deem an inappropriately worded assignment for a five-year-old child.
The assignment, which was geared at improving the child's reading and writing skills, required the child to trace dotted lines to form a sentence which read, "Pussy loves to play." Below the sentence was the picture of two kittens playing with a box.
However, according to Ceilia Morgan, communications manager at the ECC, the correct word to be introduced to children at that age when referring to the feline animal is 'cat', not 'pussy'.
"The commission does not find the word appropriate, especially for use at the early-childhood level, where children are more vulnerable," she told THE STAR.
As a result, she will be facilitating discussions with the school in question, as well as other early childhood educational institutions to ensure that such a situation does not re-occur.
The ECC's sentiments were shared by Julia Davis*, a 47-year-old a mother of four. She said that she has always had a problem with the word being included in Jamaican textsbooks and class activities.
"When I was in school, there was a poem and I would never call the word because I felt like I was cussing bad word. Instead, I would say 'putty'. I don't want my child to experience that, especially at such a young age," she said.
Zoleton Brown*, who has a two-year-old son, was also appalled by the use of the word. "If my son get that assignment, I would be uncomfortable with it. We as Jamaicans nuh really call the animal that, we call it cat or kitten. We mostly use the word when we a cuss bad word," Brown said.
For Damian Cover*, whose daughter is seven years old, the use of the word is conflicting.
"As an adult, I understand that there's nothing wrong with using the word, but whenever my little daughter sees it in textbooks or so on, she laughs and start act shy because she knows it is also used as a bad word," he said.
However, language specialist Professor Herbert Devonish has completely rubbished the idea that the assignment was inappropriate, theorising instead that those who consider it inappropriate have perverted minds.
"All words can have sexual connotations if the speaker wish them to have it. If you purge every word that has a sexual connotation, then people won't speak," he asserted.