Violence on the rise in Jamaica schools

Items confiscated in school raids.
Items confiscated in school raids.

KINGSTON — The man in charge of the Safe Schools programme in Clarendon has expressed concern about the increase in violent behaviour in the parish’s high schools.

Sergeant Dean Cover, who was speaking to reporters in the parish recently, recounted an incident involving the stabbing of two students, one to the neck and the other to the face, which resulted in both being charged and scheduled to face the courts.

The police officer displayed various offensive items and weapons including a home-made gun, reportedly made by a welding student, and several machetes which were recently confiscated from high school students.

Cover said the students have found clever ways to conceal the weapons.

“For the knives,” he said, “they tend to tuck them in their waist bands to the front or the back of the pants. Some will even put them on a string and then push it down the back of their shirts.”

Cover said while the Safe Schools Programme, which falls under the Community Safety and Security Branch, has been partnering with principals and deans of discipline to teach students alternative ways of resolving disputes, they do face a number of challenges. One of them, he believes, stems from some bus operators and vendors who sell at school gates.

“Based on information that we have, some of the buses that transport these students are also hiding some of these weapons for them until they get out of school in the evenings,” he said. “The higglers at the school gates, also based on information, are also hiding some of these weapons,” he said.

Cover warned that the police would be intensifying their stop and search activities. “If we find any of them (bus operators and vendors) to be involved in this type of behaviour they are going to be slapped with charges. So, we are appealing to them to stop.”

He also called on parents to give greater support to the safe schools programme as it seeks to rid the parish’s schools of anti-social and criminal behaviour. “Ensure that you search these children’s bags when they are going out in the mornings and even when they are coming home in the evenings to see if they are taking any form of weapons to school,” he pleaded.

He also showed reporters an ice-pick which was taken from a little boy whose mother sells fish.

“This is what she uses to cut the ice but apparently he had a dispute at school and decided to put this into his bag. We know what this can cause, so we want as much as possible to limit situations like this before it results in death (or injury),” said the policeman.

“We want to ask our parents to help the children to understand that whether at home or abroad, discipline must be maintained because if we don’t get it right from now, then our society is going to be a dark place,” Cover said. (Observer)

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