Teachers are calling for more deviant youth to feel the heavy hand of the law as they demand an end to potentially life-threatening cases of violence against them.
This was revealed as teachers from learning institutions across the country assembled at the Barbados Workers’ Union’s Harmony Hall headquarters to boldly expose the dangerous realities now associated with their job, while discussing solutions to the problem.
Unified in the fight against student-on-teacher violence, members of the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union (BSTU) were reportedly joined by others in the profession, demanding an end to the madness.
In an impassioned address lasting nearly an hour, BSTU president Mary-Ann Redman provided alarming insight into potentially life-threatening experiences, which have affected teachers as recently as this week.
Citing intelligence gathered by the union, she revealed that in some cases, there was an organized system within some schools, in which students are rewarded by their peers for unleashing acts of terror on their teachers.
“There’s this points challenge now, circulating in schools, and if you attack a teacher, you get points,” she said as teachers reacted with horror.
She continued: “Yes, student-on-teacher attacks to score points.”
The union boss then turned her attention to a potentially lethal situation, which was foiled by the swift action of a security guard earlier this week. It surrounded reports of a young man arriving at a secondary school armed.
“The guard took him to the office and on searching the bag, the boy had two machetes and some kind of specialized hammer with a pick on the other side. What was also found on the school premises yesterday [Tuesday] behind a white board were two knives. The day before, there had been a fight in a nearby town and our belief was that there was some type of reprisal action planned,” she explained.
Noting that the last of these [violent incidents] got full national attention with the very encouraging words and progressive actions of Chief Magistrate Christopher Birch, Redman declared “We need more like him.”
She was referring to the tough stance taken by Birch in response to a recent incident, in which a 14-year-old, third form student attacked a female teacher over a cell phone battery. He was remanded to the Government Industrial School for 28 days.
Redman further revealed that a female student involved in a recent attack, signaled her intention in a post on Facebook, months before unleashing the assault.
This chilling account was preceded by stories of teachers attacked with pieces of wood bearing nails, a physical education teacher who narrowly escaped being slashed with a shovel and police cars being pelted with stones on school premises.
“When students can beat police and pelt a police car with rocks, how can the school system as it presently is organised function effectively and address those problems. What are we doing as a society to lift our heads from the sand to grapple with these problems in a meaningful and realistic way if they are to be remedied? This problem now has to be faced headon and we have to be a part of it, because we are on the front lines.
“Since the beginning of this school term there have been five instances of student-on-teacher violence against our members and we are here today to say ‘not one more,’” she said to loud applause.
Ahead of a meeting with Prime Minister, Mia Mottley and Minister of Education, Technological and Vocational Training, Santia Bradshaw, Redman armed teachers with 13 recommendations as part of a protocol for student-on-teacher violence.
Among the recommendations is a directive for teachers to seek police intervention if the principal refuses to do so after being notified that a teacher has been attacked.
The BSTU president also highlighted an environment in which teachers are subjected to “psychological violence” from some manipulative and vindictive behaviors exhibited by principals.
“Some of them display unfair and prejudicial behavior and frustrate, demean and belittle teachers in their workplace and too often in the presence of their students and other colleagues. That has to stop,” said Redman.
“Teachers fear punitive transfers when they seek to have their rights represented. They fear inequitable interdiction and suspensions done often without transparency and consistency and only on accusations, which aren’t often properly substantiated… That has to stop.
Redman also praised government for adapting a more receptive approach so far to issues affecting the vital profession. [email protected]