In an effort to tackle the high incidence of school-related violence, more guidance counsellors will be placed at secondary schools.
Minister of Youth and Community Empowerment Adrian Forde made the announcement during the commemoration of the International Day of Peace at the Cathedral Church of St Michael and All Angels. Forde indicated that the Mia Mottley administration was mindful of the increasing acts of violence and indiscipline being demonstrated by secondary school students across the island and sought to appoint more counsellors to educate students on conflict resolution.
Forde also called for civil and faith-based organizations to integrate themselves within the school system and provide school programmes targeted at conflict management.
The Minister of Youth disclosed that his ministry has taken additional measures to cut down on school-related violence by assigning safety officers on Transport Board buses and at locations where large numbers of youth congregated.
“We are going to make sure that every opportunity for the young people of this country [to achieve] their true potential is going to be realized,” said Forde. “There is no secret that the young people are the most pivotal in terms of Barbados’ development,” he added.
Speaking directly to the students gathered from the Springer Memorial Secondary School, The St Michael School, St Leonard’s Boy Secondary School and Harrison College, Forde contended that violence and bullying, especially cyber bulling, must be urgently addressed. He cautioned against the inappropriate use of social media to hurt others or to project negative images of one’s self. The Minister of Youth warned the students to be mindful and cautious with what they posted on social media as it could be detrimental to their employment prospects in the future.
“In this day of job seeking… you have to be mindful and careful of what you post and the image you present to Barbados and the rest of the world,” he said.
Forde urged them to settle their disagreements with words and “not fists or weapons”.
“We need young people to put down weapons of destruction and take up the tools of employment,” said the Minister of Youth.
Also in attendance was the United Nations Resident Coordinator Dr Godfrey Xuereb who encouraged the students to contribute to finding a solution to the worrying national issue.
“All of us can be part of the solution by taking small steps, whether it is work, at school, on the road or at home, we can honour the aim of the International Day of Peace by seeking a peaceful resolution to conflict and not using… our fist or weapons. The only weapon we should use is the weapon of peace.”
Cultural ambassador Stedson Red Plastic Bag Wiltshire and entertainer Anderson Mr Blood Armstrong joined the students to pledge for peace. Before his performance of Alive, RPB imparted the students with a life lesson, “you need to have love, kindness, compassion in your hearts”. (KK)