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JIS News

Superintendent Norman Heywood, coordinator of the police component of the Safe Schools Programme, is urging the government to enact legislation that would assist in getting students who should be in school, off the nation’s streets.
In an interview with JIS News, Superintendent Heywood pointed out that because the country does not have truancy legislation, the police have no jurisdiction over students, who are seen loitering in games arcades or involved in other activities when they should be in school.
“The police can only ask the proprietor to tell the children to leave his establishment,” he said. The Superintendent urged the Ministry of Education and Youth to consider placing truancy officers in the school system as well as to encourage more volunteers, especially men, to become role models or mentors to students, particularly boys. “We would like civic groups and organizations, which have the necessary skills, to join the (Safe Schools) Programme,” he said further, “so we can have more mentors. this will ensure that the programme is proactive rather than reactive.” He also suggested that the government build special schools for children, who were consistently disruptive and those who exhibited antisocial behaviour. “These students should be taken out of the normal everyday stream and placed into these schools to continue their education under a stricter and more disciplined regime so that other students can have the opportunity to learn peacefully,” he said.
Superintendent Heywood additionally appealed to students to utilize the educational opportunities afforded to them.
“A lot of students only think of now, the ‘bling bling’ and the things happening on television (but) when the stark reality of life faces them, that’s the time they are going to be sorry they didn’t use their educational opportunities wisely,” he pointed out. The police Superintendent further called on parents to play a more active role in the lives of their children. “Parents send their children to school and they do not even attend parent teachers association meetings to see if their children are performing well or behaving,” he declared.
With values and attitudes being eroded, he affirmed that the Safe Schools Programme would be the catalyst to win the minds and hearts of students, who could still be curbed to become more civic-minded and better adults.
The Safe Schools Programme was instituted in November 2004 and is a government initiative to tackle the problem of violence in schools. To date, a total of 114 police officers have been trained as school resource officers, with 97 dispatched to 92 schools and an additional 36 should be added to the complement by June 2007.