Alert buzzers among strategies under consideration to curb school violence

CCTV cameras have already been fitted at a number of local schools (Photo courtesy
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By Robert A. Emmanuel

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The rise of school violence has prompted Ministry of Education officials to devise new approaches to what some are calling an untenable situation.

Director of Education Clare Browne spoke to Observer media about some of the strategies being thought out by education officials—some of which would have been inconceivable a few years ago.

Browne explained that schools may have to develop personalised security plans to help keep students and staff safe.

“We have to ensure that we place alerts on school plants so when something happens, a buzzer goes off … we have to sit down and develop them and every school will have to come up with its own protocols,” he said, adding that the plan should mirror similar steps in place for earthquake and fire drills.

School security has been an ongoing problem for officials dating back several years, however the increased use of weapons like machetes and the rise of youth gangs have prompted a response from the government.

Browne revealed that while nothing was concrete at the moment, officials were taking the situation seriously.

“We have had to be a little more proactive in ensuring that we put things in place to deal with the kind of hazard that could come before us,” he said.

Last year, the Cabinet approved several measures to address the violence after a spate of attacks reportedly perpetrated mainly by a local gang.

One such proposal was the installation of security cameras which Browne revealed have been recently placed at the Clare Hall Secondary School (CHSS).

“In addition to the security officers and the police presence on the compound, then we have cameras in, and we have been putting in lights in several schools,” he said.

Over the past week, parents and the teachers at CHSS have publicly expressed their frustration at the number of incidents occurring at the school which included two masked intruders wielding weapons followed by a weekend break-in.

Yesterday, Observer media obtained a letter sent to high-ranking officials by some of the concerned parents, many of whom supported teachers’ industrial action on Monday as they demanded that two police officers be stationed at the grounds.

In a letter sent to the Director of Education, the parents said they “want the operations at the school to return to normalcy so that the students can continue to work in a comfortable learning environment and to reduce the disruption of classes. The pandemic impacted our children negatively and many are still struggling to cope”.

The letter added, “In addition, our Fifth Form students are about to take their CSEC exams and reoccurrence of this sort of disruption will negatively impact the results which will undoubtedly have an impact in shaping their future.”

Prime Minister Gaston Browne, Attorney General Steadroy Benjamin, Education Minister Daryll Matthew, St John’s Rural East constituency representative, Maria Browne, and other officials were copied in on the letter.

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