Jacob: School fight videos under cops’ scrutiny

Act­ing Com­mis­sion­er of Po­lice Mc­Don­ald Ja­cob says videos of school fights cir­cu­lat­ing on so­cial me­dia are en­gag­ing the at­ten­tion of the po­lice

Act­ing Com­mis­sion­er of Po­lice Mc­Don­ald Ja­cob says videos of school fights cir­cu­lat­ing on so­cial me­dia are en­gag­ing the at­ten­tion of the po­lice.

How­ev­er, Ja­cob said the Cy­ber Crime Unit must first as­cer­tain if these are in fact re­cent events

“In some in­stances, we have sit­u­a­tions that have oc­curred re­cent­ly but in oth­er in­stances, peo­ple are putting up footage from years ago, so we want the re­porters to look at them care­ful­ly be­cause you will see in­stances where no­body wear­ing masks. We have in­stances where peo­ple put up videos at 9 pm and said it hap­pened an hour ago and when you watch you see­ing the sun in the sky,” Ja­cob said dur­ing a me­dia con­fer­ence host­ed by the Min­istry of Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty yes­ter­day

In the mean­time, Ja­cob said di­vi­sion­al com­man­ders are there to deal with any forms of vi­o­lence

“We have school li­ai­son of­fi­cers and then we have the com­mu­ni­ty po­lice. So when deal­ing with young peo­ple and vi­o­lence, there is a cer­tain sort of ap­proach you need to take and they are so trained in how to han­dle that sit­u­a­tion, if it goes be­yond we will use the nor­mal crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem to deal with it.”

Mean­while, par­ents are call­ing for the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion (MoE) to re­move ‘trou­ble mak­ers’ and ill-dis­ci­plined stu­dents from the gen­er­al school pop­u­la­tion.

The re­quest was made by the Con­cerned Par­ents Move­ment of Trinidad and To­ba­go (CPMTT) fol­low­ing a re­cent up­surge of school vi­o­lence which has been high­light­ed on so­cial me­dia plat­forms

These chil­dren that are cre­at­ing hav­oc in the schools, sep­a­rate them for the time be­ing. If the rest of the school is com­ing for 8 o’clock, then let them come to school for 9, let them stay in class when every­one is out,” CPMTT pres­i­dent Clarence Men­doza said

On Tues­day (Feb­ru­ary 22), Guardian Me­dia high­light­ed is­sues of vi­o­lence and ex­tor­tion at the Siparia West Gov­ern­ment School, where one stu­dent was stabbed at the be­gin­ning of the new school term.

The Ed­u­ca­tion Min­istry has since in­ter­vened.

How­ev­er, Men­doza said the is­sue is na­tion­wide

“La Ro­maine Sec­ondary, Mara­bel­la Sec­ondary, Princes Town East and West Sec­ondary, all the way to Ch­agua­nas North and South and Port-of-Spain schools and the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion is aware. Par­ents don’t want to send their chil­dren to school right now.”

But it’s more than just lock­ing stu­dents away in a sep­a­rate class­room. The CPMTT be­lieves they need psy­cho­log­i­cal in­ter­ven­tion. Its pres­i­dent said poor men­tal health is a dri­ving fac­tor in their be­hav­iour

Men­doza added that what has been seen over the past few days is what hap­pens when chil­dren are just brought back in­to a sys­tem with­out giv­ing them the av­enues and tools to process the pan­dem­ic

“We should have known what the ef­fects have done to our chil­dren. We had asked for the pe­ri­od Sep­tem­ber 2021 to Jan­u­ary 2022 to be utilised to have guid­ance of­fi­cers do a pro­gramme for the chil­dren, where the chil­dren can give their views on how they are feel­ing, how are things at home, did they even have food at home?”

The CPMTT is al­so call­ing for a re­turn of sports pro­grammes in the schools, as pat­terns of vi­o­lence show that it is most preva­lent in schools where the bulk of its year­ly in­take are stu­dents who scored be­low 30 in the Sec­ondary En­trance As­sess­ment (SEA) ex­am­i­na­tions.

The group said the re-in­tro­duc­tion of tech­ni­cal vo­ca­tion­al stud­ies is al­so an in­te­gral tool to com­bat­ing vi­o­lent be­hav­iour

They need an av­enue, they may not be able to keep up with the Eng­lish and Math­e­mat­ics, we need to give them oth­er op­por­tu­ni­ties whether it be weld­ing, sewing or cake dec­o­rat­ing,” Men­doza said

Het said there is a case study that shows its ef­fec­tive­ness as the Pleas­antville Sec­ondary School was able to in­stil dis­ci­pline at the school by sim­ply in­tro­duc­ing a home eco­nom­ics/cook­ing class