‘Time for action’: BUT demands meeting to wrestle violence Loop Barbados

The content originally appeared on: Barbados News

The Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT) is appealing to the Ministry of Education to arrest the school violence across Barbados.

With the 2019 stabbing incident at Frederick Smith Secondary School still fresh in the minds of Barbadians, BUT president, Rudy Lovell, has continued his plea for a serious intervention.

“Violence is increasing in our schools, and teachers are fearful, it is time for action to address this serious problem. Students are leaving home for school with scissors and knives instead of textbooks, pens, and pencils.”

“One wonders why our children and people in society are so angry…We don’t want a recurrence of what happened at Frederick Smith on 8th November 2019, where a student lost his life in a vicious stabbing incident,” remarked the BUT president today, Thursday, December 8.

Following an attempted stabbing incident at Deighton Griffith Secondary School, Lovell called for the Ministry of Education, Technological and Vocational Training and key education stakeholders to convene for a meeting to discuss violence in schools.

…it is time for action to address this serious problem.

He maintained that schools were unable to fulfil their role as “places of learning and socialisation”.

“Acts of violence at our schools or by our school children only serve to diminish the positive gains teachers and students are making in the educational system.

Tackling violence in society and schools is a mammoth task, and all stakeholders need to work together on this very troubling and frightening issue, including parents, guidance counsellors, students, the Ministry of Education (MoE), the church, the police, sports clubs, communities, and corporate Barbados,”he said.

The BUT president also revisited the request to increase the number of psychologists and guidance counsellors assigned to the public schools. He indicated that one counsellor to an entire school population was not enough.

“Students need to be taught how to employ effective anger and conflict-resolution strategies. There must be an increased effort to provide psychological support to at-risk students and their parents, more guidance counsellors, support services, and safety officers. Moreover, some parents must start parenting and instill the right values in their children.

“Additionally, the [Ministry of Education] urgently needs to hire additional psychologists as the one person presently employed is woefully inadequate and cannot cater to the issues presented by students in the over 100 public schools in Barbados.”

He also suggested that the Ministry “beef up security in schools”, while noting that some schools are without guards.

Lovell maintained that arresting the violence in schools was not only a Ministry effort but extended to the community and the family. He urged parents to search their children’s bags before they left home on mornings as some were carrying dangerous weapons such as knives.

“Parents should beseech their children to follow the right path,” the BUT president stressed.