Given the increasing number of student fights that have occurred over the past couple of weeks, there have been widespread discussions relating to this issue and what can be done to address it.
President of the St. Lucia Teachers Union (SLTU) Julian Monrose has added its voice and told St. Lucia News Online (SNO) yesterday that it requires a collective approach to curb this problem.
Monrose told SNO that everyone has to take responsibility for their child or children, but society also has a responsibility to ensure that they play a positive role in a child’s development.
“They have a role to play in helping to guide children in a positive direction,” he stated.
The SLTU president said the moral fabric is slowly deteriorating and must be taken more seriously.
“We need to train our children in such a way that they understand violence is not the answer,” Monrose told SNO.
While he acknowledged that efforts have been made to address this issue, the SLTU head asserted that more needs to be done by parents and guardians as well, not only to reduce violence, but bring an end to loitering.
Monrose also raised concerns over students walking with weapons in their school bags.
“A weapon is a threat to persons in the school or in the vicinity where the person is. We know that every school rule opposes that behaviour. They need to understand that behaviour is unacceptable,” he added.
Teachers, he explained, are already playing their part in helping to mold and guide students in a positive direction. However, it is left up to the individual pupil to accept the teaching or not to. The church also has a responsibility in helping to teach youth positive values and principles.
Education Minister Dr. Robert Lewis has told the media that the issue is one that requires serious attention and has since called for an end to loitering after school hours. The minister has suggested that while some of the children may not be involved in violent activities, as was witnessed over the past weeks, parents should give children a change of clothing if they have errands to conduct.
Meanwhile, Commissioner of Police Vernon Francois has also called for a holistic approach to the issue, especially as it relates to loitering. The top cop has suggested that a discussion between parents, teachers and law enforcement officials be initiated. Francois said hopefully the discussions will help to bring some resolution to the problem, as it cannot continue any longer.
Vendors and minibus drivers have been complaining that Castries is usually swamped with school children on a daily basis, but mostly on Fridays. They claim that the students would gather at the mini-bus parks and Constitution Park to lime, which most times end up with violent behaviour.
In June this year, the police said during 2013 and mid 2014, they confiscated a number of weapons from students at various primary and secondary schools within the education districts 1 to 3. The weapons included: 35 knives, 26 scissors, a 24-inch cutlass, eight metal eating forks and a piece of wood with a nail embedded in it and three four-inch penknives.
Other items found included a bottle of alcohol, several ounces of marijuana, a golf club, a live .380 bullet and a rope measuring 57 inches, which was intended to be used for committing suicide.