Pubdate: Sun, 12 Mar 2006
Source: Jamaica Gleaner, The (Jamaica)
Copyright: 2006 The Gleaner Company Limited



I AM deeply concerned about the levels of violence and  aggressive
behaviour among our students.

Violence exists in our schools, in perhaps all our  schools and in a
way, we probably are too afraid to  admit. Like the national
statistics, many cases are  simply not reported. Cases of fights
involving various  weapons occur on a daily basis. Weapons may include
  anything such as knives or ice-picks. The principal's  office is kept
busy throughout the day.


Our children are angry, very angry. They are angry  because they feel
abandoned. Many of our children have  been left to fend for themselves
because their parents  are not home. They will shortly become the lost
  generation. Their parents reside in the United Kingdom,  in the
United States, in the Cayman Islands. Some do  not even know where
they are, and who they are. Many  walk with cellphones and that is
their only point of  contact. They wait for a call from mom or dad.
The  cellular children are here to stay. They are unstable,  they are
lonely, they are angry, their parents are not  at home, they are in
distant lands. Of course, some  parents are home, but just cannot
manage or simply do  not care. The teacher has all the answers.

Some of these children have spent short periods abroad  and have been
told they will rejoin mom and dad or both  as soon as they finish
school. And so, they have  finished school, for in their minds they
are merely  occupying a waiting area until the day of departure
comes. For some, the departure will come in one year's  time, for
others it will be two or three or even five  years time; for others,
that day will never come.


Our children are angry because a parent is dead and  they were not
properly counselled through the period of  grief; they were expected
to carry on with their lives  with a void that has never been filled.
The empty  space, they cannot handle, they therefore fill it with
anger, some with resentment, some with a mission to get  attention by
any means possible, some could not care  less whether the world is
turning or not.

Drugs abound in our communities all over the island,  and are readily
available to our children. School  children are lucrative clients for
small drug peddlers.  Many of our students especially our boys are
using  substances, we know not what. One thing is sure; the  minds of
many are altered. Schools without perimeter  fences have all the
avenues and alcoves and secret  spots where boys can gather and use
ganja or whatever  they choose and return to class after lunch, ready
to  battle with peers or teachers, or just to fall asleep  on their

They take drugs in their bags, in their shoes, in their  pockets,
wherever they feel it will be safely hidden.  Too much of the
teaching/learning time is spent solving  issues between children and
children, or children and  teachers. Is it any wonder that larger
numbers are left  behind if they survive for five years in school?


The carrying of knives by some students is a major  concern for all
schools. It is fast becoming a  tradition in every kind of school.
Recently, I learnt  that a huge knife was taken from a grade six boy
in a  small primary school. He was angry and had threatened  to stab a
boy whom he considered a bother to him.  Knives are hidden in secret
spots along the way by  those who walk to school in the rural areas.
They  retrieve them for fights after school.

The safe school programme is an excellent concept and  will bear
fruits if the officer assigned will take up a  position on the
compound on a daily basis. Parents and  guardians must begin to
exercise greater levels of  interest in their children, and visit the
school plant  more often to see how their children are performing.
Some only go when they are sent for. They must know  what they are
taking in those bags, they must be made  accountable. We must save our
children, and the day of  salvation is now!

I am, etc.,



Winston Jones High SchoolMore Letters 
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