Columns

It's happening once more

Barbara
Gloudon

Friday, October 05, 2018

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Some time ago, I recall a leading school in the city found its community being harassed by robbers who had invaded the school and robbed students and staff, making life miserable for everyone. Now the crooks are back again.

In Wednesday's edition of The Gleaner the authorities proclaimed that they intend to put a stop to the increase in robberies and other crimes against the students in the central Kingston region. Ivel Calder, deputy superintendent of police for the Kingston Central Police Division, revealed that they will be undertaking covert operations in an attempt to prevent further crimes from being committed.

For some time now we find in the news the reports of attacks on schools in country and in town. How long can this continue? As we go through this so often, the question that springs to mind is, exactly what can be done?

We talk much of the need for our children to be properly educated, but how will that happen if they have to face regular attacks from brutal beasts? The current situation is upsetting, more than we could ever imagine.

Why should it be that sexual attacks and other instances of violence are perpetrated against students? What is to happen to us as a people?

Many teachers have made sacrifices to remain on the job doing what they can to assist as many students as possible to grow into adults who will be a credit to this nation. We thank them wholeheartedly for doing what they can. It is hard, however, to accept that when the youth leave the protective walls of their schools they are set upon by criminals and thugs.

In the most recent reports, students from other Kingston schools met at St George's College — one of the long-established secondary schools in Kingston — to discuss the challenges they face. I seem to remember that this is not the first time that St George's students and others have found themselves in almost similar difficulties. Some of us will recall when North Street was at the hand of thieves and operators of violence. I remember us talking the matter over several times, but it seems the wicked have not given up.

The police have asked that the schools set up safety and security committees to help the students as they make their way to and from school. They advise that students make use of proper, authorised public transport. They should try to travel in groups and be aware of how they handle their electronic gadgets in public. Keep the laptops, tablets and phones out of sight as others may be watching and ready to pounce, they are told.

Certainly the communities around the schools should do their best to protect these youngsters. Sadly, there are some among us who have done otherwise.

Saddest of all was the revelation that other students have been setting up their schoolmates to be robbed. How did we get here? Members of the school body — teachers and students alike — have suffered at the hands of intruders who invade the places of learning to bring nothing but chaos. I still cannot understand how someone can break into a school and steal down to the food bowls of basic school children. Yes, that is reported to have happened in times past. Some schools have spent money they don't have to spare putting in all kinds of security measures to protect life and property. What is needed, some say, is a change of heart. We must become protectors of our children.

The police have been making efforts to ramp up community policing. But both sides have to take part. Parents and members of the school family should be introduced to their neighbourhood policemen and women. Get to know them so they can be called upon before problems escalate. But, are there parents who would be able to do what they can to change the present situation? What really is going to happen? What measure of punishment would be put upon the individuals who are caught preying on the innocent students of this country? Better must come.

Sad memory of Dajohne

Taking care of youngsters these days is a lot of hard work for parents and families. It seems to me there has never been a time like this in which youngsters are losing their lives in such tragic circumstances — sometimes by accident, sometimes by confusion.

Such an instance occurred a few days ago when a six-year-old boy, Dajhone Pennant, from a family in May Pen, Clarendon, was washed away as he tried to cross a flooded channel. He was in the company of his 13-year-old cousin who managed to escape the power of the water, but Dajohne was carried downstream and drowned. Our deepest condolence go to his family and friends.

Barbara Gloudon is a journalist, playwright and commentator. Send comments to the Observer or

gloudonb@gmail.com.

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