After several weeks of tension and anxiety, it appears the youth-on-youth violence that had dominated the news, and invoked fear in both students and parents, has relented.
Since the school year began in September, there had been a number of attacks on schoolchildren by fellow youth – some involving dangerous weapons and resulting in significant injuries.
The escalation forced the Education Ministry to meet with the police, social services, parents and teachers in a bid to halt the frequency of the incidents and stamp them out.
And the solutions coming out of that meeting seem to have had an effect, based on word from Police Commissioner, Atlee Rodney.
“It has not escalated. I think it was some young misguided persons who decided to use violence to deal with their matter and I think there was a good meeting when all the stakeholders came together…we had some short-terms goals and we had some long-term goals and I think since then the situation has been minimised to a point that you haven’t heard any of those incidents. You haven’t heard of any fights between those young persons,” Rodney told Observer.
One of the short-term requests made of the police by the Education Ministry was for increased police presence at places like sporting events, which have been recognised as hotspots for the violent activity.
Rodney also spoke on the efforts of the police during the period of tension, and called on parents and guardians to support them from within the household.
“The police were very much active. The police were very much stretched,” he said.
“I made an appeal to the parents and I believe some parents are taking their role a little more serious because those children are leaving home with those knives and the scissors and ice picks in their bags and I think if parents just continue to be on top of things and check their bags,” the top cop continued.
Meanwhile, to further mitigate against youth violence, the government indicated that it plans to reform current legislation.
The Child Justice Act, originally passed in 2015 and amended in 2018, replaced the Juvenile Act in an attempt to create “a criminal justice process for children accused of committing offences based on restorative justice, and which aims at protecting the rights of children”.
Some issues that may be addressed is the age of criminal responsibility which is currently 12.
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