Thanks to concerned residents who shared photos on social media Friday of a man sitting in a school bus stop in Santa Rita without pants on, the attention of police and mental health personnel was called to resolve the issue at hand.
On the opposite side of the island, in Yigo, a school bus stop was not fit for schoolchildren to seek shelter in while waiting for their ride. A homeless man has turned the bus stop into his own domain, littering it with garbage and other hazards.
This problem – unfortunately – isn't isolated to these two bus stops. There are other hazards in other bus stops islandwide.
Some are occupied by homeless residents. Others are too close to vehicle traffic.
Some school bus stops do have makeshift traffic barriers, in some cases boulders or traffic dividers, to help protect schoolchildren from being struck by vehicles.
There are school bus stops occupied by packs of stray dogs. There are bus stops with concrete roofs that have shown signs of cracks, potentially exposing students to the possibility of falling concrete chunks causing injury.
There are bus stops that reek of urine and feces.
In some bus stops, where students wait before sunrise, there aren't functioning streetlights to help keep them safe. Or there are no sidewalks around to ensure they navigate their way to the bus stops safely.
The sad part about this, in addition to exposing our schoolchildren to various forms of physical risk, is the unspoken word we as a community are saying to our future generations.
It's the message that we don't care enough to protect them from some of the problems we have the power to fix. We don't do enough or mobilize enough as a community to look after their safety.
When schoolchildren see this lack of care, they might think that adults don't value them all that much.
Some kids will rise above this and other challenges and strive harder to get out of this difficult situation. But even those who do manage to continue to keep their spirits up – for now – may one day, when they are able to, pick up their bags, leave the island and rarely ever come back. They find the feeling of home somewhere else.
We like saying our youth are our future and our priority.
But what they see is sometimes to the contrary.