The President of the Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA) says the attack by a male student of the Tivoli Gardens High School on a senior educator highlights that the society is bordering on ethical and moral decay.
“We need to look at how our students are behaving today, and I am calling again on parents to take charge of their children and to give good counsel to their children because it cannot be that a student can feel that it is okay to attack a teacher, or to attack any adult at all, let alone a teacher,” warned Winston Smith.
He was speaking during an interview with Loop News on Tuesday, hours after a 29-second video of the altercation between the 16-year-old male student and the teacher went viral.
The boy has since been charged with assault occasioning bodily harm and malicious destruction of property.
Allegations are that on Monday, the teacher instructed the schoolboy to leave a classroom but he refused. The teacher and the student were then seen engaged in a tussle.
Reports also are that the teacher, in trying to remove the student from the classroom, was allegedly shoved by the teenager.
During the stand-off, she was reportedly assaulted and had to be treated for injuries.
“This is not good for us a society,” Smith said in reference to the incident.
“It is telling us that we are bordering on ethical and moral decay if we haven’t totally decayed already,” he opined.
While expressing grave concern about the safety of educators and, specifically, those at the Tivoli Gardens High School in West Kingston, Smith said all is not lost.
“We can recover once we put in the work as a society, ministry (of Education), PTA (Parent Teachers’ Association), and all well-thinking Jamaicans need to come on board and rally around a transformation of our society,” he declared
“We need to reimagine, re-engineer, re-position ourselves, and restore the fabric and fiber of our society, or else we gonna pay dearly for it,” he predicted.
Meanwhile, Smith said preliminary information presented to him suggested that the accused teenager was suspended.
However, the police have subsequently confirmed those allegations that the boy was on suspension and should have not been on the school compound on Monday.
Notwithstanding the police confirmation, the JTA president says he will be making his own investigations to determine the facts.
“What the allegations are is that the young man was suspended, came on the compound selling some contraband, the teacher spoke to him, and he attacked the teacher. That is the allegation that has been brought to me, and I haven’t verified it as yet,” he outlined.
According to him, the JTA is very “concerned about the safety of our schools”.
“How is it that somebody on suspension, if that is true, is able to enter the school compound?” he questioned.
In the meantime, Smith reiterated that a comprehensive analysis needs to be conducted of the behaviour of students in schools after their return to face-to-face engagement earlier this year.