Crawford accuses Gov’t of not doing enough to address school violence Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

Opposition spokesman on education, Senator Damion Crawford has expressed alarm at the rising levels of violence among the nation’s children and has criticised the Government for not doing enough to cauterise the situation.

Crawford has also accused the Government of ignoring solutions offered by the Opposition. He raised the issues in an open letter to Education Minister Fayval Williams on Thursday.

His call for the Government to treat with the situation as a matter of urgency, comes against the background of recent violent incidents among children, including the April 18 stabbing death of 15-year-old Ranniel Plummer of Irwin High School. His 14-year-old schoolmate has been charged with murder in relation to the killing.

At the start of the month, students of several prominent Corporate Area high schools were involved in a number of violent clashes, forcing their principals to issue a joint statement denouncing the violence.

And, while making a statement in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, the education minister expressed concern at the alarming levels of violence among students and expressed the hope that such behavior was not being normalised in the nation’s children.

Opposition spokesperson on education Damion Crawford (File photo)

In his letter to Williams, Crawford said: “I am writing to you in my capacity as the Opposition Spokesperson for Education but, more importantly, as a concerned citizen of Jamaica. Madam Minister, I write to you with deep concern over the escalating violence among students within our schools”.

Crawford reminded the minister that “despite repeated calls for action and numerous recommendations put forward by the Opposition, we have witnessed a distressing lack of effective response from the Government”.

He further reminded Williams that “In our previous statements, we have highlighted the alarming trend of violence within schools and emphasised the urgent need for comprehensive measures to address the root causes of this issue. We have identified various risk factors contributing to this violence, including individual, relationship, community/societal and school-related factors”.

“It is deeply troubling that despite our efforts to engage in constructive dialogue and provide viable solutions, the government has generally ignored these efforts. The lack of progress in implementing concrete solutions is unfortunate and poses a grave risk to the safety and well-being of our children,” Crawford added in his missive to the minister.

The opposition spokesman wants the Government to urgently consider the proposals made by the Opposition and wants the education minister to convene a meeting with both teams to search for solutions.

Crawford again listed the recommendations previously made by the Opposition:

Establishment of departments of socialisation in all public schools, led by guidance counsellors and staffed by trained form teachers.Ensuring adequate adult supervision during non-class interactions, particularly during lunch time and after school.Engaging the police force to implement after-school mobile patrols in school areas.Rethinking the role and remuneration of form teachers to incentivise their commitment to student well-being.Providing comprehensive training for educators in behaviour modification and intervention strategies.Increasing the number of deans of discipline and guidance counsellors to improve student support services.Implementing staggered lunch and dismissal times to enhance supervision and reduce risk.Revising detention practices to focus on long-term intervention and peace education.Offering special summer programmes for students prone to violence.Equipping schools with closed-circuit cameras for enhanced security.Adopt a zero-tolerance approach to violence and promote positive behaviour.Rewarding good behaviour and encouraging community involvement.Exploring the establishment of reform boarding schools and increasing mental health support.Creating a department of volunteerism to engage community mentors.Organise weekend peace education programmes involving parents and guardians.Implement a big brother/sister programme to support at-risk students.Promote school attachment through cultural activities and values education.

Crawford is urging Williams to “prioritise the safety and well-being of our students by taking immediate action on these recommendations”.

“It is imperative that we work together to create a safe and nurturing environment for all students to thrive,” he said.