Written by 2:22 pm Music

School violence – merely a symptom


Paolo Kernahan


Will the mother of a student beaten inside an inch of his life get justice?

Will the maxi taxi driver who tried to defend that student against the juvenile pack of hyenas get satisfaction for the body music he endured? Probably not.

The mob masquerading as pupils who bludgeoned the 16-year-old and the driving force are minors making big people’s decisions. In civilised societies, minors who perpetrate violent crimes don’t escape attention of law enforcement just because of their age.

Vidya Lal, mother of Rasheed Lal, tearfully told reporters of the aftermath – an ambulance needed to be called to their home a couple of days after the beating of the Carapichaima Secondary School student because he struggled to breathe.

Each time there is a flare-up of college violence we respond with typical knee-jerk reactions. Because the paroxysms of shock and horror abate, nothing more is heard of the matter until the subsequent bare-knuckle school brawl captures our ephemeral attention.

Sure, there could also be a committee to research here and a white paper there; ultimately nothing is finished and the cycle of violence does what cycles do.

A lifetime ago I covered a spate of violent incidents at a faculty in Arima. Teachers and the varsity administration were battling an unstoppable wave of conflict. On the time, school administrators were being pushed to expel the troublemakers.

The argument was this: students tired of learning should not be allowed to disrupt those that are. You ought to fight? Go do it within the streets…like real gangsters.

Students who were suspended for fighting would often sneak into this Arima school through a hole within the fence in the back of the compound that is bordered by a ravine. That is loads of determination to settle scores.

On the time it was believed these miscreants were under the influence of gangs. These gangs were exerting a territorial claim over the varsity which was simply a subset of their domain. Despite the fact that expulsion was an appealing option, it didn’t make sense, for obvious reasons: expulsion can fast-track a lifetime of hopelessness and criminal inclinations. Without an education or some semblance of 1, jettisoned troublemakers grow to be layabouts and gang conscripts.

School violence is a posh challenge. Teachers aren’t trained to face the calibre of combatants in today’s theatre of operations. I’ve spoken to teachers who feel as if they don’t seem to be educators in any respect, but wardens.

In some schools, they describe large numbers of scholars as openly disrespectful, volatile, and even sexually aggressive toward female teachers.

Several months ago the Ministry of Education claimed school fights were “right down to almost zero,” an assertion that seemed flimsy. It also doesn’t account for the variety of incidents that occur off-site. Lots of the violent clashes involving each female and male secondary school students occur on sidewalks, within the streets, and even in front of individuals’s homes.

School violence is intractable because many individuals, including the authorities, fail to process it as a symptom and never a disease. Student conflict is a repeating echo of the broader dysfunction in society. Studies show students with violent tendencies are likely to come from violent communities or homes where conflict is prevalent. Furthermore, students who live in these pressure-cooker environments perform poorly academically. So academic struggles also contribute to acting out amongst disadvantaged kids.

In that way violence becomes a self-sustaining chain response; children who come from unstable environments grow to be themselves unstable, eventually graduating to perpetuate the cycle of instability.

They leave the varsity system with none type of useful education. They didn’t profit from the standard of parenting that might prepare them for the world and so go on to repeat the mistakes of their parents.

Allowing school violence to fester is criminally unfair to mild-mannered students who just want an education. It’s an injustice to teachers, who shouldn’t wake every morning to feelings of dread on the prospect of getting dressed to go to work within the Thunderdome.

Furthermore, school violence contributes to the degradation of the broader society. Troubled students regurgitated by the varsity system in lots of cases graduate to more serious criminal activity.

Until NGOs, the ministries of Education and Social Development and Family Services and the police work together to confront school violence for what it’s – a family and societal plague – we’ll keep treating the recurring symptoms.

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