Parents of students attending the St Leonard’s Boys’ School were thrown into a state of panic this afternoon as two students were stabbed at the Richmond Gap, St Michael School.
The two 16-year-olds received stab wounds during an altercation during the lunch break today, the latest in a troubling rise in knife crimes among school children.
According to Acting Inspector Roland Cobbler, the public relations officer of the Royal Barbados Police Force, the two were involved in a fight with two 15-year old boys.
Up until the time of publication police had not released the names of the victims, who were transported to the state owned Queen Elizabeth Hospital by ambulance for treatment. One victim received multiple stab wounds about the body, while the other was stabbed in the jaw. Both were reported to be in stable condition.
Cobbler revealed that a knife and broken glass from a window at the school were used during the incident, which likely started in the communities the boys came from.
Students were summoned to the school auditorium until police and personnel from the Ministry of Education, including Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Education Harry Husbands and Chief Education Officer Karen Best, arrived at the scene.
Scores of worried parents gathered at the school gates, trying desperately to get confirmation that their children were safe.
Up until 1:30 p.m. when the children were eventually let out of school for the day, several parents said they were essentially left in the dark, with only snippets of information from social media to go on.
“While I was at work I just heard that there was a child that got stabbed here so I didn’t hear from my son, so I decided to come and see what was going on. I am out here waiting, so hopefully nothing is the matter with him . . . .They [the school] haven’t told us anything at all so I am just here waiting and praying that everything is all right ” said Ricky Watson, who also expressed concern over the rising levels of school of violence.
“I can’t put my hand on what is really going on because it doesn’t seem that the children have the ability to resolve conflict without violence. So we really have to do something about it because it is getting out of hand,” Watson added.
Doren Pollard also expressed similar concerns, revealing that it was only after making several inquiries through informal channels that she was able to learn that all of the children in her son’s year were safe.
“I got the call while I was at work and someone told that there was a stabbing at my son’s school. I then got a ride down to the location and when I got here I learnt that the children were on lockdown, but after I questioned a few people I learned that all of the form ones are okay. I am still awaiting to hear what really happened,” Pollard said.
The concerned mother made it clear that while it was logistically impossible for school officials to contact every parent, those at the school gate should had been brought up to speed about what was going on. However, apart from the immediate communication concerns, some parents called for decisive action on the issue of school violence.
“This is not a problem which the Ministry of Education can solve. It’s a lot of problems rolled into one. You have some parents training their children properly and then they have to send them to school with wild children who have parents that don’t care. Somebody have to start making these parents account for their children wildness. This is no time for talk, this is serious. School is for learning, not sword fighting,” said one father, who did not want to be identified.
Today’s development occurred less than a week after four children were stabbed at Grantley Adams Memorial School, triggering a two-day closure of the learning institution last Thursday and Friday, while the ministry met with teachers to discuss safety.
A week earlier four students from the Daryll Jordan and Frederick Smith secondary schools suffered multiple stab wounds as violence erupted among pupils of the two schools aboard a state-run Transport Board school bus.
Addressing the issue at a press conference held at the Ministry of Education last Friday, Husbands said gangs were infiltrating the island’s schools, and were getting into territorial fights at the encouragement of grown ups.
“What the Ministry of Education has been looking into for sometime, and what came home forcefully to me yesterday, is that there are gang elements in Barbados who are attempting to infiltrate the schools,” Husbands said this morning at a news conference at the Ministry of Education.
Attempts to contact the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union and the Barbados Union of Teachers proved unsuccessful up until the time of publication.
However, for the past two years both unions have been calling on Minister of Education Ronald Jones to take urgent and decisive action to control the problem, which they said was getting out of hand.
Attorney General Adriel Brathwaithe said last week, Government would soon introduce legislation to punish parents for their children’s transgressions.