I watched tonight’s episode of “The World’s Strictest Parents” on BBC3. The programme follows unruly young people who are sent to strict families in other countries. Tonight’s programme followed Sam North and Charlotte Hart who travelled to Jamaica to stay with the Rose family.
From the outset 17 year old Sam came into direct conflict with “Mum” Sharon Rose – refusing to remove the numerous bars and earrings from his piercings, claiming he couldn’t go ten days with smoking. And in the abstemious and God-fearing Rose household, Sam’s refusal to attend Church on Sunday caused a major rift. 16 year old Charlotte was asked to attend the local high school where she sat a written test – “I like Jamaica because…”. And predictably, she refused to take part. Sent to the head teacher, she remained defiant, the head teacher stunned that – in 36 years – no child had ever told her “You can’t make me.” When she eventually rejoined the class to take the exam, the stream of puerile rubbish that flowed from her pen began “In Jamaica it’s well hot…” and as she exclaimed afterwards, “I just wrote how I felt.”
Sam wrote a poem about fatherhood, which was singled out for praise by his teacher. “Nobody ever said back in England that I was able to get an A.” he said, his attitude beginning to change. By the end of the seventh day, both were starting to mellow. No longer the angry, frustrated teenagers, they began to interact with their Carribean ‘mum’. “You can just, like, talk to her and tell her how you feel” said Charlotte. “She’s a cool lady” said Sam.
Towards the end of their ten day visit, the Roses introduced Sam to Malachai, who left school to look after his seven brothers and sisters when his father walked out. His home wrecked by a hurricane, Malachai told Sam about his life. “I ain’t complaining no more” said Sam “there ain’t nothing to complain about.” By the tenth and last day, Sam and Charlotte were completely changed. Both were eager for a ‘new start’ with their families. “I will remember this – always always always” said Charlotte.
And so it was that Sam and Charlotte’s adventure ended – back with their families, loving and caring. But why did they have to go to Jamaica to learn how to behave? And how about all the other young people who won’t be sent on the trip of a lifetime?