The trinidad Guardian / Minister of Education Anthony Garcia yesterday said action will be taken against several schoolboys who were identified carrying out assaults on other students, including robbery and assault, while on the compound of the Siparia West Secondary recently.
Garcia’s comment came after videos of the assaults were posted on social media over the weekend and drew scathing criticism from members of the public.
The minister strongly condemned what he saw in three videos he said were sent to him on Saturday.
“We are to deal with it. It is a totally unacceptable conduct on the part of our students,” Garcia told the T&T Guardian.
One of the videos showed several students and one student in particular robbing another student, who was dressed in an overall, of money. The schoolboy then began pushing and hitting the student he robbed in the back of the head as other students cheered on.
In a second video, the same student along with others were beating another student in a classroom. A third video shows another student wearing a Bobo Ashanti headdress (religious tradition) striking a student twice in the back of his head. That fight ended up in the balcony area just outside their classroom.
Garcia said while the ministry, in working along with principals and teachers, has been able to see a “tremendous” achievement in the fight against school bullying and violence, “it is incidents like these that really undermines our efforts.”
“But we are going to do everything to stamp that out,” Garcia said.
He assured that a team of officials will meet this morning on the issues to have in-depth discussions. He added that they will visit the school and pleaded with all students who are victims of bullying, robbery and assault to come forward and not be afraid.
“We are going to deal decisively with that…it must not happen again,” Garcia said.
Asked what sort of disciplinary action the students may face, Garcia replied that he did not want to prejudge.
ACP: Don’t post attacker’s pic
Acting ACP Radcliff Boxhill yesterday said members of the public must refrain from posting online photos of a student who was involved in two separate videos of school violence.
Photos of the student were posted online mere hours after videos showing him assaulting and “taxing” other students recently appeared on social media.
Members of the public also began threatening and posting information on the student, who they claimed had a relative who is a police officer.
Contacted yesterday, Boxhill said he saw the videos on social media, adding the Child Protection Unit would have to co-ordinate with the Ministry of Education on the matter.
“The CPU has to look into it and they have systems in place to deal with it. We see some sort of bullying taking place, obscenity and physical violence and robbery, which is a form of intimidation. It is cause for concern that it is taking place in schools and some students who are bullied don’t report it and who are being intimidated.”
Boxhill said having viewed the video, he is of the belief some of the students involved in the incidents should receive counselling.
However, he urged members of the public to stop posting photos of the students involved.
“It is not proper to be posting pictures on social media. It is not the best thing to do, it is young children, we can’t give up on them. We have hope of bringing them around from criminality. We ask people to refrain from posting those pictures,” he said.