As investigators record witness statements in their probe into the stabbing of a Fyzabad Secondary School student, the National Council and Parent Teacher Association (NCPTA) says education stakeholders must address parenting issues to address school violence.
NCPTA president Kevin David says the Ministry of Education’s (MoE) measures to curb school violence cannot just be police patrols around schools and revising its National School Discipline Matrix. He said parents also need to take accountability for what their children do.
“When I refer to parental involvement, I speak about parenting involvement across the board. Parenting could involve searching your child’s book bag before leaving home or going to school. That would immediately eliminate the process of drugs and weapons getting into the school,” David said yesterday.
In one of the latest incidents of violence in schools, police had to be called in to quell fights at the South East Port-of-Spain Secondary School on Wednesday. That matter is now under investigation after police had to use pepper spray to restrain a student who refused to comply with their instructions.
Also, around 3 pm Monday, two Form Four students were on the Fyzabad Secondary compound when three young men in casual clothing entered and assaulted them. During the assault, one of the suspects cut the victim on his arm with a knife. School personnel intervened and dressed the injured student’s wounds before taking him for medical attention. Investigators believe the suspects were students from another school.
WPC Jeffrey and PC Silverton responded to a report of school violence around 3.20 pm and met with acting principal Sharon Branch and School Safety Officer Christine Howie.
South Western Division (SWD) Snr Supt Anthony Remy said his officers cover the school as part of their School Patrol Initiative, providing regular morning and afternoon patrols to schools in the division.
“As Snr Supt, I had visited that school and spoke to the principal and staff prior to this to see how the police can best assist. I visited as a proactive approach to school violence,” Remy said.
Remy plans to visit more schools in the division in the future.
David said the NCPTA is aware of the incident, which was not life-threatening.
While he said there is more need for parenting support from the NCPTA and NGOs, he admitted parents’ attendance at Parent-Teacher Association meetings around the country was low. He takes some responsibility as NCPTA head, saying there is a need for training among the members to provide support to parents.
David added that there is also a need for more training for the National Maintenance Training and Security Company security officers at schools on monitoring the compound and dealing with violence.
Concerned Parents Movement (CPMTT) president Clarence Mendoza meanwhile said the policing initiatives the MoE and Police Service agreed to last year were insufficient.
Mendoza said police have their hands filled with other crimes. He said an argument between two girls on Wednesday at Pleasantville Secondary resulted in one stabbing the other with a pen. The principal and safety officer had to break up the fight.
Mendoza said the CPMTT urged parents to increase their vigilance by picking up their children after school but only some do it. Therefore, the CPMTT wants to see more after-school activities to replace students’ idle time with something positive.
Mendoza proposed that the Ministry of Sports hosts sporting activities and the Ministry of Tourism Arts and Culture offer performance and culinary arts classes for others.