Students from nine primary schools, who recently took part in an essay competition on school violence, have been encouraged by Minister of Youth and Community Empowerment Adrian Forde to use their ideas to facilitate conflict resolution in their communities and schools.
The students, ages nine to ten, had to write essays on ‘How to Prevent Violence in Schools’.
Forty-three entries were made to the Community Development Department Essay Competition, with Kia McCarthy from the Gordon Walters Primary School securing first prize for her suggestions, which included creating mentorship programmes, conducting school searches, establishing support groups for parents and having teachers and parents work together.
During his feature address, Forde called for adults to become more involved with the youth in their communities.
“Gone are the days when we would say it is not my child; therefore, it is not my problem. It is everybody’s problem. If we lose one, we lose one too many,” he warned.
Forde also suggested that “in order to minimize and ultimately eliminate school violence we must adopt an approach that involves the entire community.
“We should pay close attention to the early warning signs of those who tend to be violent and seek early intervention for them,” he added.
The Minister of Youth and Community Empowerment also called on members of society to see themselves as a family that worked efficiently in unison.
“Every single adult can impart [wisdom to] our young people. That is what we need to get back to . . . when Barbadians see themselves as actively involved in the development of every young person. At the end of the day, we must produce global citizens, persons that can go across the horizon and represent Barbados. It is incumbent on all of us to [influence] the impressionable minds of our young people,” he said.
Spokeswoman for the Ministry of Education, Technological and Vocational Training Janelle Little commended the essay competition saying such initiatives reduced the risks of school-based violence.
“True progress in violence prevention will only be had when Government agencies like the Ministry of Education, Technological and Vocational Training and the Ministry of Youth and Community Empowerment work side by side with community leaders, parents, teachers, and administrations,” she pointedly said.
Little disclosed that on July 2, schools across the island would be celebrating National Pledge Day, where students would recite a peace pledge and be given peace badges as part of the School Positive Behaviour Management Programme. (KK)