Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of National Security, Senator Kern Spencer, has recommended that closed-circuit television (CCTV) and metal detectors be installed in schools to assist in the recovery of weapons and the prevention of attacks on students and teachers on school grounds.
Senator Spencer, who was speaking at the University of the West Indies Guild of Students’ first annual essay competition for primary schools on the Mona campus yesterday (Feb 23), said that the use of CCTV would also aid in the swift resolution of cases involving attacks on teacher or students, as the perpetrators could be easily identified. “Children must be allowed to enjoy their childhood, they must be allowed to go to school regularly and they must be allowed to feel safe within their school environment,” he said. Meanwhile, Senator Spencer lauded the UWI Guild of Students for its timely intervention in the ongoing dialogue on crime and violence through the staging of the essay competition. He noted that the topic chosen – ‘The effects of crime on the youths in my community’ – was most appropriate.
He further challenged the Guild to devise outreach programmes or get involved in government initiatives to bring relief to the young people in the communities, which are most affected by crime. “I speak of programmes such as the social intervention programmes, the Community Security Initiative and the Parish Crime Prevention initiatives,” he said. Senator Spencer pointed out that women and children were increasingly the victims of violent crime, and this sad fact was borne out most graphically, in the essays of the top three awardees in the competition.
The Parliamentary Secretary said the attack on the young and institutions of learning, was deliberate. “The fact is most of the gangs operating in Jamaica are located in communities, which are vulnerable. For many of the residents in these communities, education is their only legitimate route to upward social mobility. Dons and drug lords are therefore vehemently opposed to education as well as educational facilities, as they recognize that an educated person is an empowered person, who doesn’t have to rely on hand outs,” he argued.
Senator Spencer said a profile of the “kingfish” of crime in Jamaica showed that they were “extremely intelligent and completely ruthless, they have all recruited top class professionals in various areas, they are all connected to other criminal organizations in the major capitals of the world, they have accumulated large fortunes from which they bribe and corrupt the major institutions of the society and this criminal elite is fighting to control a budget of about the same size as that presented to Parliament.”
To deal effectively with the issue of crime, Senator Spencer said, two essential elements are required. These, he noted, were the certainty of apprehension and sanctions. “There is much room for improvement in both areas but I believe that the state is coming to terms with the task at hand,” he stated.
Ten-year-old Shania Palmer of Allman Town Primary in Kingston was awarded first place in the competition, which had 300 entrants. Second place went to 11-year-old Asha Miller of Old England Primary in Manchester; while 10-year-old Kadesha Miller of the Howard Cooke Primary in St. James, placed third. There were also eight consolation prizes awarded.