Education Minister Anthony Garcia has described as criminal the conduct of students of the Siparia West Secondary school who were recorded in cellphone video images last week extorting money and beating up other students at the school compound.
In an emailed release, Garcia condemned the students’ behaviour which de deemed as ‘criminal’ and added that the Minister of National Security was engaged to ensure the perpetrators felt the full brunt of the law.
“With the incidence of school indiscipline and violence on the decline, greater attention must be paid for the swift curtailment of such behaviour. The Ministry holds fast to its commitment to safety and security in our nation’s schools and all measures will be put in place to secure our students. I can say with certainty that no parent sent his child to school with the expectation that their child would be an aggressor or victim of assault.”
Garcia expressed concern as the seeming lack of supervision at the school at the time the students were video recorded engaging in tax collection and fights. He reiterated that part of the job of a principal or teacher is the supervision of students, which is critical to prevent scenarios as the ones seen in the videos circulating on social media.
The release added that Minister of National Security Edmund Dillon has indicated that police officers will be on site at the school today, “To lay charges on the students involved in the altercations.”
The Ministry, Garcia said, will also be investigating how supervision is conducted at the school to alleviate any possible future occurrence.
Garcia cautioned students that the Ministry has a zero tolerance policy on indiscipline and any student engaging in disruptive behaviour will be swiftly dealt with in accordance with the law.
‘DON’T PAPPYSHOW MEH’
The videos, taken by students, have been viewed and shared hundreds of times on social media websites including Facebook and Twitter. In one video, a student points in the face of another telling him, “Don’t f**king pappyshow meh.” Without warning, a third student enters the fray and slaps the one being told not to pappyshow the other. The beaten student then attacks the one who slapped him and a scuffle ensues. This takes place inside a classroom where several other students stand by watching.
While the two students hold onto to each other by the white-board, the student who muttered, “Don’t f**king pappyshow meh”, slaps the student whom he had confronted earlier, several times. The fight stops briefly. One of the combatants picks up a chair and students who look on tell him not to pelt it at the other student who was in the fight.
As a voice is heard saying, “hit him”, the student hurls the chair at the other student who stands in a corner of the classroom. The fight resumes but ends a few second later. Obscenities are heard and one student is heard remarking about blood being spilled on the floor. The video then ends.
‘YUH SPOIL DE VIDEO’
In the second video, a student wearing some type of head wrap slaps another student twice while other students squeal in delight. A voice is heard saying, “take off yuh shirt boy, take off yuh shirt” as the slapped student indeed takes off his shirt while another student jumps into the video shouting and jumping in glee. The slapped boy then throws several cuffs at his adversary. The fight spills out into the corridor outside the classroom.
The fight ends as the boy who was slapped twice suffers an injury to his right eye and bends over in pain.
Other students including the one recording the fight, express their dissatisfaction as the fight comes to an abrupt end. “Whe boy yuh spoil de flicking ting”, a voice is heard as the student doubles over and rubs his eye.
“Boy yuh spoil de video dey boy,” the student is heard saying as the injured combatant walks off while his adversary stands nearby with his supporters.
TAX THEN SLAPS
The third video drew the most comments and condemnation as it shows a student paying some kind of tax to another student. As the student passes over the money, the ‘tax’ collector appears not to be happy with the amount collected but still tells him to leave.
“Go ahead, go ahead nah ah doh want to see yuh face,” the ‘tax’ collector tells the other one at the top of a flight of stairs. The scene turns violent as the student who pays, appears hesitant to leave.
“I doh want to see yuh face dawg. Better move, better move from here,” the ‘tax’ collector shouts as he fires a stinging slap to the other student who beats a hurry retreat down the stairs. The ‘tax’ collector follows, firing two more slaps as the school bell is heard ringing in the background. Another student begs the ‘tax’ collector not to beat the other student too much.
“Nikko, nikko aye he go get heself in...Nikko, Nikko not too much, Nikko...” a voice is heard as the ‘tax’ collector holds on to his victim’s vest and fires off four more crushing slaps to the back of his head, before the victim walks off and out of the video frame. As the ‘tax’ collector walks up the stairs one of his cohorts throws something at the victim.
The ‘tax’ collector, still holding onto wads of one dollar bills, says: “Yuh make meh hit the man, whe kalonn?” In all, the victim was slapped seven times.
National Parent Teacher Association (NPTA) president Zena Ramatali, commenting on the issue, said suspension which is the present penalty for school violence, should be replaced with harsher measures so as to discourage students bent on criminal conduct. The videos were posted on Victim 15’s Facebook page and subsequently shared on the Siparia West Secondary School Past Pupil Association’s Facebook page.
Ramatali said she could not fully describe her feelings after seeing the videos except to say she was heart broken.
“It is a serious situation and when I looked at the video, my heart broke because I have grandchildren in school and I can’t describe the feeling looking at those videos,” she said.
“We really have to do something about bullying in schools, we have spoken time and time again and I think we have look at putting policies in place that hold students and parents more accountable,” she said. “We have to protect innocent students from this kind of violence and criminal behaviour.
The sanctions, she added, must now be of such a punitive nature that students will think twice before engaging in such criminal behaviour.
Ramatali said the issue will be addressed at a general council meeting of the Association set for this coming Saturday.