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October 10, 2012
Star News


 

SCHOOL VIOLENCE WORRIES COPS

Andre Williams, STAR Writer

The wounding of eight students in three separate incidents since the start of the school year has caused the police to step up operations to rein in students in various divisions across the island, THE STAR understands.

Since the start of the new school year in September, there have been at least three reported cases of violence among students which have both the police and parents alike concerned.

"Violence is always a bone of contention with students at this time of the year. But this year, it seems as if things got off to maybe the worst ever footing.We have since reorganised our efforts into curtailing the violence. The police are out on the streets during the days searching and apprehending the trouble students," an officer attached to the St Andrew Central said.

parent's concerns

A parent with whom THE STAR spoke also had concerns. "My son start go high school and everyday mi fret on him cause from school start, as you quint you hear of violence in the school dem or on the road after or before school ... It come in like learning take a back seat ... Gangs, sex and violence mi see dem pickney ya a deal wid."

The parent's concerns are not without basis. In September, at the Green Island High School in Hanover, a student was taken into custody for stabbing three other students. A few days later, two students at Cambridge High, in St James, were reportedly charged for a stabbing incident outside the school compound.

There are also police reports of three students being stabbed at Knockalva High, in an altercation which reportedly involved three grade-ten students, two of whom have since been arrested and charged.

Information gathered by THE STAR is that since the start of the school term, several offensive weapons have also been confiscated from students at institutions islandwide.

Meanwhile, a police sergeant attached to the St Catherine North Division told THE STAR that the gangs in schools were as a result of students aligning themselves to gangs in their communities. He said this was the reason for school-based violence in his division.

When contacted, Minister of Education, Rev Ronald Thwaites, told THE STAR he was only aware of two acts of violence in schools, which, according to him, were confirmed by media reports.

"We accept that there is a need to work on the current spate of instances of violence in schools. We appeal to people in the media and entertainers to be more helpful in advancing the cause ... The schools are empowered to search students with the dean of discipline and guidance counsellors being given the power to act in the capacity of district constables, and physically restrain persons where necessary," he said.

He added, "The ministry can only advise and offer counselling. It is the responsibility of the parents and teachers to carefully deal with curtailing violence ... Where instances occur beyond the control of the education ministry, we work with the Ministry of National Security."

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