The Ministry of Education is probing an incident in which four female students physically attacked another and the video then posted on social media.
Minister of Education Ronald Jones, who admitted to viewing the video on Facebook, expressed shock at the violence displayed.
“I have never encountered so much anger coming from young people as I saw in that . . . One girl, I don’t know what she did, I don’t know how she annoyed the others, I don’t know if they didn’t like her . . . [but] there were about four girls all over her . . . and fists and feet were raining down in the most vicious manner. And the sounds that came from their mouths, their stomachs, were like raging beasts,” Jones said at the launch of the Axcel Mentorship Programme (AMP) at Solidarity House this morning.
“I am saying to myself ‘what are we doing . . . that cause our young people to be behaving this way?’ I don’t want to get immersed in hypocrisy; I’m not saying that in 1932 or ’42 we didn’t have some of that behaviour, but if we are creatively evolved we should be shedding violence as part of our total person.”
Jones was clear that the issue could not be swept under the carpet, and indicated that the ministry would be following up with the schools attended by the students involved in the incident.
“We now have to ask the schools – or it might already be done, I’m not sure – where are those children now, what has been the discipline brought to bear on them, what caused that?’.”
The minister also blasted the person or persons responsible for video taping the incident and posting it online.
He described those actions as insidious.
“You have to be standing there, positioning yourself to get the best video recording. That is insidious as well. And, you become a participant in the violence, and perpetuate the violence by posting it on Facebook, or Youtube, or Whatsapp or whatever,” Jones said.
The minister also denounced the posting of another video on social media in which another hammer-wielding female student was ranting and gesticulating.
He said the young woman was “parading with that hammer and using some of the most Barbadian penetrative invectives that you can find”.
“It hurt me in deep ways.”
Jones lamented that children were increasingly being exposed to electronic tools, but were not being taught how to use them ethically.
The minister also took the opportunity to come out in strong defence of the principal of Harrison College, Juanita Wade, who has been criticized for her decision to take action against a female student over her hairstyle.
“School is not a fashion parade,” he declared.
“When an educational leader speaks to the school that she’s in charge of or he’s in charge of, and for that leader to be cussed and bastardized, particularly by those who were not there, you know what they’re called – malicious, wicked, seeking raw, naked sensationalism . . .”
Meantime, Jones told the scores of students attending the AMP launch to find the motivation to bring about meaningful change in their lives.
The semester-long mentorship programme, which has already been introduced in St Lucia, aims to provide secondary school students with professional assistance.
“AMP will benefit you and your fellow students by developing your leadership skills, helping you navigate throughout the various choices and challenges you face,” said Samuel Rosenberg, chief executive officer of Axcel Finance which is sponsoring the project.
“This programme will connect you with people and will empower you to ensure you become the best you possibly can. You will learn from people with different backgrounds, different cultures, and you will receive the tools to develop yourself and your potential.”