A senior police officer is recommending that lawmen conduct spot checks of students on school premises to help curb a worrying rise in school violence.
In the wake of an incident at The Ellerslie School last month in which a student suffered lacerations to an arm and had one finger severed and another partially severed in a cutlass attack by another student, Acting Assistant Commissioner of Police in charge of Operations William Yearwood this morning offered the assistance of the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF) with any such security checks.
“If you need to have the police brought in, then that should be done at an early stage. Certain matters must be nipped in the bud. I believe that if they are nipped in the bud, we would have less of the problem. There should be some spot checks made more within the schools. If you want to prevent weapons from entering the schools, then you have got to do checks,” Yearwood told a news conference at Police Headquarters on Roebuck Street, The City.
It was not immediately clear if these checks would include metal detectors, a suggestion that has already been shot down by both Minister of Education Ronald Jones and the Ministry of Ecucation.
Last month’s incident at The Ellerslie School, which was the culmination of a feud that began two weeks earlier between two fourth form male students, was the latest in a series of student-on-student and student-on-teacher violent episodes.
Earlier this year a 14-year-old pupil was hospitalized in critical condition after being struck on the head by another student while at school.
As with the various cases that had been brought to light, that incident had provoked outrage from the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union, as well as the Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT), whose president Pedro Shepherd had pleaded with the Ministry of Education “to take control of the situation and ask all principals to report all cases”.
“It is a serous problem in school with the level of violence, disturbances, disruption of teaching and learning and something has to be done about it,” Shepherd had said.
Today, Yearwood also appealed to school administrators to take charge of the situation.
“I think that those who are responsible . . . the administrators of the schools have got to be on top of their game in terms of dealing with students. Students go to school to learn and learning means a change of behaviour . . . and when they go within the environments of the schools, those who are charged with the responsibility of doing that, must be on top of their game and deal with any situation that arises,” the senior police official contended.
Police have since arrested and charged two schoolboys in connection with the disturbance and cutlass attack at Ellerslie Secondary School.
Following that attack the BUT had called for the installation of metal detectors at schools. However, the recommendation was dismissed by the Ministry of Education, which instead approved intensification of random searches, Shepherd said this week.
“What the ministry is saying now is to use the power of search which is in the [schools’] regulations and do random searches of students. If you know you have students who are deemed [potential troublemakers] you would search more often than the regular students,” the BUT head said.
Minister of Education Ronald Jones had taken a similar stand against metal detectors.
However, six days after the Ellerslie incident, he told a ceremony to launch the school’s sixth form programme that while the students were not all bad, new laws would be introduced to “pluck out” those who are hell bent on causing mayhem.
“One child can disrupt a school, two children even worse. But ten can run havoc in that school. You could have 890 settled and doing well but ten can disrupt that school and become the candle that people see. So we have to put a new cadre of laws, because we have to pluck them out sooner rather than later and place them in other institutions,” Jones said at the time.