In what one poster on social media described as “ghetto behaviour”, a disturbing video is circulating online showing a male student, believed to be from Grantley Adams Memorial School, setting fire to the hair of an unsuspecting female student, who was on her mobile phone at a bus stop a stone’s throw away from the Blackman’s, St Joseph school.
Another student quickly extinguished the fire and the affected pupil escaped injury, according to police, who confirmed that they were investigating the incident.
The video has provoked a storm of criticism by Barbadians, who turned to social media to express their disgust.
“This is the ghetto behaviour our young people is (sic) happy with, tip of the iceberg,” one person posted on the Barbados TODAY blog.
“Truly disgusting behaviour, requires a mental health assessment. There Really IS something wrong with him,” added someone with the moniker, Sonnie Leawat, while Ryan Robert A Charles wrote: “There are not enough words in the dictionary that could be used to describe the tactless, uncouth and dangerous act. School children today gone to the dogs. But I’m not only blaming just children cause I find it that in this 2018 parents afraid to discipline their children.”
Grantley Adams Memorial School Principal Valdez Francis was unavailable for comment today.
However, President of the Barbados National Council of Parent Teachers Association (BNCPTA) Shone Gibbs described the video as “extremely disturbing” and nothing to laugh about.
“It is extremely disturbing and very concerning that in any form or fashion, whether it be serious or jokingly, that someone would attempt and carry out an act like that on another person, not understanding the ramifications and the seriousness of it,” Gibbs told Barbados TODAY.
“It is very concerning whether it be intentional or bullying but these are things that must not be tolerated, and I do hope the police investigation would see the full weight of the law brought on that person,” he added, expressing horror at the response of those who were laughing while the student’s hair was aflame.
“We need those ambassadors among the school children to say, ‘this is lawlessness, don’t do this. Walk away’ . . . . This can only be done by education.”
School violence has been a major concern for the teachers’ unions, which have complained that it is getting out of hand.
Following an incident on November 22 last year at Ellerslie Secondary School (now The Ellerslie School), in which one student’s finger was severed in a cutlass attack, Minister of Education Ronald Jones promised to introduce new laws to “pluck out” those who are hell bent on causing mayhem.
At the same time, Jones, who had announced in April 2016 that he would establish a committee to probe violence in schools, said he would not have “Paul pay for all” by introducing security measures that would inconvenience entire school populations when the troublemakers were in the minority.
Gibbs today said school violence was a national issue that needed to be urgently addressed.
“This is not an educational problem, this is not a school problem, this is a societal problem because this is pretty much a reflection of what we are seeing in society,” he stressed, while calling on the wider community to play its part in addressing the problem.
“I think we as a nation need to hold hands, we need to wrap our heads around these issues and seek to impact our youth by the way of the home, church and the wider community so that when they are in the setting of education or out in public, you don’t see the incidences of violence that continue to grip our nation, the schools and the wider society,” Gibbs said.