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School Security Upgrade ‘Overdue’

BUT president Belinda Wilson.

BUT president Belinda Wilson.

By syann thompson

Tribune Staff Reporter

sthompson@tribunemedia.net

A DAY after two students were stabbed at C V Bethel High School, Bahamas Union of Teachers president Belinda Wilson said she has been making a clarion call for more than a decade to strengthen school security.

Ms Wilson said incidents like these in high schools are not new and that a more aggressive plan has to be put in place to protect not only students, but teachers, administrators and staff on school campuses. “This is 2020 and for the last 15 years I’ve been saying the same thing over and over about safety and violence in the schools. It’s not the first time that an incident has happened at C V Bethel, not only student-on-student (violence), but student-on-teacher and these incidents are not just specific to C V Bethel,” she said.

Police reported that two male students, a 14-year-old and a 16-year-old were in hospital after a stabbing at the school on Tuesday; a 15-year-old boy is assisting police with their investigation.

Ms Wilson said there have been visible security concerns on the CV Bethel campus as she called on the Ministry of Education to implement a full security programme for all high schools that include more police officers on school grounds.

“Many schools have the same issues and C V Bethel in particular, we have been telling them about the perimeter of the school, especially at the back of the school being more secure and the school being able to increase its security complement. I can’t stop stressing about having the police in the schools. We always say you having police in the schools for safety for the administrators, the teachers, the students and the clerical staff, but it seems they only want to use the police to keep the union out of the schools,” she said. 

“We have done this recommendation in writing before. There was a school policing programme and I don’t know where that is or what has happened with that because the union had an officer who sat on the school policing committee. That committee met every month. They evaluated what was happening in the schools and how the policing programme was functioning.”

In January 2019, teachers at C V Bethel conducted a sit-out after an altercation between two male students and a male teacher which left teachers traumatised.

Yesterday, the Ministry of Education said in the wake of “increased violence among the youth of our nation,” it would continue to ensure schools are as safe as possible. 

“This unfortunate incident acts as a clarion call for citizens to realise that creating a safe environment for our youth is not solely the responsibility of the (ministry), but rather it is the duty of parents and every member of the wider community,” the ministry said in a statement. “As a collective, we can mitigate against these egregious acts by teaching our youth to resolve conflicts via peaceful alternatives.”

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