A horrific a day, which must never be allowed to happen again. This was the message from the nation’s teachers unions just hours after a stabbing death at the Frederick Smith Secondary School.
Police said two students, ages 15 and 16, were involved in a fight in which the 16-year-old was stabbed to death. The other juvenile is in police custody.
President of the Barbados Union of Teachers Sean Spencer told Barbados TODAY that the entire teaching fraternity was shaken by the incident. But he added that while educators have long complained that loss of life was possible unless the scourge of school violence was addressed, there is no solace to be taken in being proven right.
Visibly shaken, Spencer said: “Saying that I told you so is not something that provides any comfort for us because this is something that we never wanted to happen. All we can do at this moment is extend condolences to friends and family of the bereaved and to the school by extension.
“I know that I would have called in the past for urgency and expediency when it came to the matter of school violence, but this is certainly not a good day in education,” as he paused at times to compose himself during the interview.
He added: “This is a matter that has been drawn to the attention of the Ministry of Education in the current and previous administration and it has not been given the level of urgency that it requires.
“This certainly cannot continue after today. This is the loss of one life too many and this is a mass episode because of the trauma which accompanies it.
“We are looking at 800 students, 800 families and over 70 teachers that will be impacted by this horrific incident. This is a tragedy.”
He declared that the BUT will be redoubling all efforts as it relates to tackling the issue of violence in schools.
A dark cloud of fear and concern hovering over the education system was how Mary Redman, the head of the Barbados Secondary Teachers Union described the situation following the stabbing.
She urged that children with behavioural issues needed to be placed within specialised programmes, even if it meant that the reputation of some schools might take a hit. She insisted that Barbadians can no longer afford to bury their heads in the sand on school violence, as “the worst that could have happened, has happened”.
Redman told Barbados TODAY: “The members of the BSTU are extremely distressed by this horrendous happening today.
“I don’t really know what more that we could say having said all that we have said repeatedly as a union in relation to violence in schools.
“All of this has been to no avail and often to the criticism and ridicule of those who should know better.
“Even in face of all of the evidence and all of the objective facts, there has been the lack of requisite interest and appropriate action taken in addressing the issue by those who have the authority to do so.”