Parents were sent a strong warning from the bench not to take matters into their own hands on issues involving their children on school premises.
District ‘A’ Magistrate Kristie Cuffy-Sargeant today issued the caution after a 26-year-old mother of four admitted to entering her son’s primary school classroom during a morning lesson and hitting another nine-year-old boy on the head.
And the union representing the nation’s primary school teachers, revealing a similar incident had occurred at a rural school today, said it was “disturbed” by the absence of security services at some schools.
Christ Church resident Shamika Chanez Latisha Prescott pleaded guilty to causing a disturbance at a St Michael primary school assaulting her son’s classmate, occasioning him actual bodily harm, and damaging his shirt.
In a statement, Barbados Union of Teachers president Sean Spencer has again sounded alarm about intrusions by irate parents at schools where there are no security guards to intervene.
“Another episode was witnessed at a rural school where were no security personnel is assigned. A male claiming to be the uncle of a female student entered the school before being approached by the principal. Upon questioning by the principal, the man indicated he was not leaving without the child. He continued to inform the principal that his intention was to kill the student,” Spencer said in the statement.
“In both cases, fortunately, no serious injuries were sustained and the officers of the RBPF responded to the calls of the respective principals,” he added.
In today’s court case, Police Sergeant Edwin Pinder recounting the events leading up to Wednesday’s incident, revealed that there had been incidents in the past between the two classmates.
The day before, Prescott’s son reportedly kicked the other boy who retaliated by grabbing on to his mouth. He told his mother what had occurred.
Instead of reporting the matter to the authorities, Prescott walked into the classroom around 10.15 a.m. while it was in session, grabbed the boy’s mouth and squeezed it. The teacher intervened to try to end the assault but the enraged mother proceeded to strike the child in the head, damaging his shirt and traumatizing the rest of the class in the process before walking out the classroom, the prosecutor said. The matter was reported to the principal, who called in the police, while the young boy was taken for medical treatment and later discharged.
“I am remorseful of my actions. Ma’am, it was based on emotions, pain, frustration, fear. This bullying has been going on from last term,” an emotional Prescott said.
She explained that her nine-year-old son had been coming home at “minutes to six since Tuesday because he was running from [calls the boy’s name] and I couldn’t take it anymore”.
But Magistrate Cuffy-Sargeant reminded Prescott of the respective ages and roles of adult and child.
“You are 26 years old and you cuffed a nine-year-old in his head and you are also a mother.”
The mother replied that the situation was born out of pain and daily reports of abuse from her son.
The magistrate also asked her why she had not obtained a transfer for her child since she alleged that the situation was so dire.
Prescott explained that she had previously had her son transferred to the school due to a situation with the principal at another school. She could not afford to remove him, she said.
“This raises a major red flag,” the magistrate stated as she further questioned why the mother had not approached the Child Care Board to report the matter.
“You know how painful that is to the other mother? When we send our children to school . . . we leave the children with the reassurance that they will be safe,” the magistrate said.
Prescott replied: “It was also out of my fear, ma’am, and frustration.”
But the magistrate was not impressed by the mother’s claim of responding to a child’s bullying.
“You attacked a nine-year-old. Do you understand that, do you understand the seriousness of that? That you cuffed a nine-year-old in his head?”
The magistrate granted Prescott $10,000 bail on the grounds that she had pleaded guilty to all the charges, was a single parent, had four children and was not known to the court.
But she warned the mother who was by now sobbing to stay away from the child and to only drop off and pick up her son from the primary school.
“I am issuing this warning to you and all parents out there who believe their child is being bullied and having issues at school. We do not want you to take matters into your own hands but to report [it].
“The school year has just started . . . and you have found yourself in this predicament . . . . I don’t know that you can find any justifiable reason as an adult for striking the young child.
“A nine-year-old cannot defend himself against you,” the magistrate stated, as she adjourned the matter for Monday when Prescott and the child’s parents are to appear in court.
BUT leader Spencer noted the two intrusions came on the heels of complaints about the absence of security guards at a number of primary schools.
He queried the “particularly disturbing” withdrawal of guards who had been deployed for the hosting of the Government’s summer camps.
“It is 2018, not 1820. Those attending and working at Barbados’ schools deserve reasonable assurance that adequate measures are implemented. These initiatives will require systematic monitoring, maintenance, evaluation and resourcing,” Spencer said.