I am gravely concerned that our schools are once again being transformed into volatile battlegrounds on which petty differences are being settled through violent and fatal means.
I refer to the senseless fatal stabbing of a 17-year-old student at Happy Grove High School by his 16 year-old cohort.
I commiserate with both parents who now mourn the fate of their sons, one way or the other. Both students should have been sitting the CXC exams next week. Unfortunately one is in the morgue and the other in police custody.
I commiserate with the school and the students who now have to contend with this horrifying act of violence.
The Ministry of Education, Youth and Culture is moving to dispatch a trauma response team to the school to provide the necessary support and counselling to the staff and students and my colleague Minister of State, Donald Rhodd will be visiting with the school later tomorrow.
We recognise the need for the Youth section of the Ministry to play an even more active role in the schools, through the students’ council, and the mentorship programmes. We are counting on the more rational students to help guide the irrational ones who have become susceptible to violent means of settling differences and agreement.
It is also critical that we expedite the implementation of recommendations, which were submitted regarding truancy camps and to harness all the available programmes that can help to stem the tide of violence in schools. But the violence in the society has to be controlled since what goes on in the school is a reflection of the wider society.
Our society is a violent one and our children in many instances live and breathe violence. It is a tragic irony that many of our students who perpetrate violence are victims of violence themselves.
We buy violence off the counter for our children, when we buy some types of CD’s and other computer games. When we allow them to browse indiscriminately on the World-Wide Web, they surf right into violence and when they get bored with the Net, they resort to Cable TV and are again entertained by acts of violence.
We are also calling upon the churches to get involved and to help provide pastoral care, guidance and counselling for our students. The fight against violence in schools has to be tackled by collaborative efforts. It has escalated way out of hand.
We are therefore appealing to parents to desist from acts of violence in front of the children, since children live what they learn. We are calling on parents to stop ‘beating upon’ their children since they in turn beat upon others – abuse is not discipline.
We are also calling on parents to ensure that the children do not leave their homes with weapons. Search their bags; search their rooms and search their pockets. Monitor the programme they watch, the computer games they play and the websites they visit.
We are appealing to teenagers to choose to walk away from confrontations that have the potential to erupt in violence. Do not allow pride and ego to jeopardise your life and your future.
As has been demonstrated several times over since the start of this year, violence only gets you six feet under or behind bars.

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