Youth violence becoming more aggressive in A&B

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As people across Antigua & Barbuda continue to express concern and question why students appear to be increasingly settling their scores with more violent behaviour, educator and Principal of the Ottos Comprehensive Secondary School, Foster Roberts said this sort of conduct must be addressed soon.
He said while violence amongst students is not new, he believes the pervasiveness of social media platforms is bringing a new awareness to the state of affairs.
“There seems to be more coverage from social media where we have more persons being aware of it… As a society, we need to start promoting the positive things that happen with our young people,” he said.
He said while it appears the clashes are becoming more aggressive in nature, it is a reflection of what’s happening in many homes.
The educator rationalised that some students are being abused at home and because they are experiencing deep social problems, they are lashing out.
“Young people are acting with more cruelty towards each other and that is an issue that needs to be addressed, not just by the school but by the community and the ministry,” he said during a panel discussion on Youth and School Violence on yesterday’s Big Issues.
Roberts stressed that this is affecting a significant percentage of children who he said need assistance because of the situations encountered at home.
He suggested that there’s a need for laws to be strengthened to give social agents – who deal with these delinquent parents – more authority to hold them accountable for their own actions and the behaviour of children in their care.
The debate comes in the wake of a recent stabbing incident involving three female students of Ottos Comprehensive, Jennings and Pares Secondary schools in Antigua.
One girl, who was said to be part of a group attacking another girl, was injured during the fracas at the West Bus Station on Monday, May 8.
Another Big Issues panelist, Marketing and Media Officer for the Department of Youth Affairs, Daryl George said one of the reasons students are getting into trouble, is the lack of adequate extra-curricular activities.
“We want to offer [them programmes] that can help in their holistic development as opposed to just giving them something to do for doing sake. We need to create a programme that will develop young persons beyond just education,” he recommended.
George suggested that mentorship programmes should be implemented in communities across Antigua & Barbuda, as he stated that many people do not recognise the power that adults have in influencing the youth.
Noting that these violent acts happen in common places like the bus terminal, George said “the police can help” but he quickly added that he feels the police would not be in a position to “address the different root issues”.
Meanwhile, Motivational Speaker, and volunteer, Rosannette Kirby, who has worked with organisations such as the Antigua & Barbuda Student Association in the US, is not in complete agreement with the punishment system in the schools here.
According to her, sometimes the punishment serves no purpose “because the students will just go back to their same behaviour. We are waiting too long to address the situation, we need to start with the kindergartens. That’s why we end up punishing them and putting them in jail”.
She agrees with Roberts that acts of violence are more severe nowadays than in the past.

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