Against the background of increasing violence among school children, a political candidate has called for security to be urgently enhanced at the island’s educational institutions to ensure the safety of both students and teachers.
United Progressive Party (UPP) candidate for St Michael North, Maria Phillips, a lecturer in dispute resolution at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Cave Hill Campus, has also urged education authorities to make conflict resolutions part of classroom studies.
Phillips said her party was particularly concerned about school children, noting that given the proliferation of social media, incidents in which students inflicted violence on their peers were being shared with a wide public, both local and overseas.
“We are not oblivious to social factors which have contributed to violent and aggressive behaviour of our nation’s youth. The United Progressive Party is therefore advocating the need for conflict resolution skills to be integrated within school programmes,” she said.
“In addition, we believe that parent teacher associations may be able to work in collaboration with community organizations to enhance training for all – teachers, students and parents.”
Pointing out the serious nature of the offences being committed by students, Phillips stressed that new ways of enhancing security at the nation’s schools had to be urgently found to reduce violent incidents and, ultimately, prevent loss of life.
“We must never allow for the creation of an environment where children are afraid to attend school, or those who take public transportation are in some way endangered due to the lawless behaviour of other children,” the UPP candidate said.
Phillips said ensuring that each child has adequate opportunities to learn and excel must remain a priority for all concerned, while acts of violence which affect all students are eliminated.