Teachers are raising concerns about their own safety and are reporting breaking up fights in secondary schools in Grenada.
Students have been caught with weapons in most of these schools. If an actual surge is taking place, what’s causing it? What do Ministry officials need to consider as they try to respond?
I have discovered that the nation is in the grip of a general spike of violence probably due to the pandemic and social unrest. No one really knows why we’ve got the trends and violence we’re seeing right now.
I believe it’s a combination of the pandemic; a lack of trust in our institutions, particularly law enforcement; lack of parental support and guidance; the presence of guns; the toxic, divisive, contentious times we live in. They’re all interacting together.
Our students are sending us warning shots. Teachers, too, have reported being victims of violence at school. There are now simply more guns on the streets, and in cabinets. It includes those incidents that take place during school hours or events, on school property, and in which at least one individual is wounded.
We hope only to provide reliable information to help inform discussions, debates, and paths forward.
Children, like adults, are tired, isolated, and traumatised by the last 20 months for mental health issues. It has increased dramatically in a seven-month period in 2022. The nation is still in the crisis of the pandemic with no real end in sight.
According to a counsellor, students can display a range of crisis reactions, which may include aggression, in response to the losses of the last two years. We need to acknowledge and support community re-engagement.
The global pandemic has exacerbated risk factors for violence in general, like loneliness, isolation, and economic instability. Violence also tends to rise at times of uncertainty, especially when distrust in public institutions is high. And social media serves as an accelerant, whipping up anger and frenzy.
Guns are more likely to be found in the hands of juveniles because of more lax laws in that regard. I strongly believe that it is significant to bring back security officers in secondary schools, increasing the number of school safety officers and offering evening or remote learning options for disruptive students. This can reduce violent students in schools, mainly fights.
The presence of security officers means that students would be suspended, arrested, or referred to the juvenile justice systems. The principal is the one who will make the call on whether to suspend students, not security officers themselves, and the principal who, alongside security officers, can refer students into the juvenile justice system.
We have to have professionals out in our communities, visiting with families and visiting with children and doing the outreach and support. I strongly believe it is going to take families, parents, teachers, social workers – it’s going to take everyone to prevent fighting and violence in schools.