Gang of girls beat student
By Nalinee Seelal Wednesday, October 9 2013
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Neck support: Sapphire Douglas wears a neck brace after sustaining injuries from a beating by a gang of girls last Wednesday. ...
A 16-YEAR-OLD student who was repeatedly cuffed in her right eye and severely beaten by a gang of girls last Wednesday, remains traumatised at her Cashew Gardens, Longdenville home too afraid to return to Cunupia Secondary School after receiving death threats.
Sapphire Douglas yesterday complained of difficulty seeing properly in her right eye and has been in excruciating pain since the savage beating at the hands and feet of female students, all in Form Five, outside the school, a week ago.
Sapphire, a Form Four student, told Newsday the first female student who attacked her had been making “advances” to her since she was in Form One. After spurning these advances, Sapphire said she was threatened with licks from the student.
According to Sapphire, shortly before 3 pm last Wednesday, she went to a tuck shop near the school to purchase potato pie when the female student, who at the time was beating up a male student, rushed toward her, grabbed her by the neck and started to choke her.
“While she kept cuffing me in my right eye and threatening to kill me, other students joined her and they too began to cuff me. I get blows all in my ribs and back. I screamed for help and begged them to leave me alone. But I was beaten up for close to ten minutes,” Sapphire told Newsday.
Sapphire said she managed to escape from her attackers and ran towards a maxi taxi, but the students followed her and dragged her out of the vehicle and again, began to beat her up. The female students, Sapphire said, threatened to kill her if she ever returned to the school.
“When I felt as though I was going to faint. I don’t know where I got the strength from, but I ran towards another maxi and asked the driver to take me to the Cunupia Police Station. When I reached the station I contacted my mother who came to the station shortly after.”
Sapphire pointed out that police officers recorded a statement from her and sometime later a teacher from the school, who was also at the police station filing a report against five male students who had earlier hit him with a bottle at the school compound, spoke to her and took a photo of her swollen right eye.
Officers told Sapphire to seek medical attention and get a medical report from doctors so the officers could begin a formal inquiry. Since the incident, Sapphire has not attended school. Her dream is to attain full passes and then move on to culinary school to become a certified chef. However, she is afraid to return to classes as her attackers remain free.
Sapphire, who wears a neck brace, said Cunupia Secondary School is more of a war zone than an institution of learning as fights break out almost everyday. She said indiscipline is rampant.
The young girl added that she wants justice and is not afraid of going to court to testify against her attackers, but cannot understand why the police have not moved against the violent female students despite the fact the officers have all the information.
“All I want is to complete my education. I am not interested in unlawful things. I just want to become a certified chef and make something of myself,” Sapphire said. Her parents Alicia and Stephen Douglas told Newsday they continue to be in a state of disbelief that students could do this to each other.
“I am saddened by what has happened to my daughter. When I saw how my daughter looked on the day of the beating, I started to cry. I just held her and hugged her,” Mrs Douglas said.
Sapphire’s father said she had been attacked once before.
“One of the girls had previously slapped my daughter and I reported that incident to the Cunupia Police and nothing was done. And now look what has happened,” stated Mr Douglas.
“The principal called me yesterday (Monday) and asked to see me right away. I told the principal that I am not sending my daughter back to school until this matter is dealt with by the police and the school authorities. My daughter’s life has been threatened and I do not want what happened at Waterloo High School (where a student was stabbed to death) happen to my daughter,” he said.
Checks with Cunupia Police yesterday revealed two female students have confessed to investigating officer WPC Marcano that they beat and assaulted Sapphire. Police officers told Newsday they expect to lay charges soon.
Last Wednesday, five male students were arrested and subsequently charged for assaulting teacher Rawle Harry and Cpl Duncan, a security guard, and resisting arrest and have since appeared in the Chaguanas Magistrates’ Court where the case is still pending.
One of the male students has been sent to the Youth Training Centre, Arouca while the other four were remanded into the care of their parents pending a probation officer’s report.
Newsday understands principal Vishnu Maharaj has applied to the Ministry of Education for an extension of the seven-day suspension which have been served on the five students.
Teachers at Cunupia Secondary yesterday said they are frightened of the students because of the daily violence.
The teachers said although they have been asking the Ministry of Education through the PTA and TTUTA for remedial action to be taken to rehabilitate troubled students, nothing has been done.
Minister of Education Dr Tim Gopeesingh, questioned yesterday about claims from teachers that they are unable to cope with the indiscipline, said, “I went to the school after receiving reports of tremendous difficulty being encountered by teachers and tried to address the situation.
Unfortunately, TTUTA, did not take kindly to my presence there,
but despite this, we will continue to monitor the behaviour of the entire school.
Gopeesingh added, “What I have found from my visit is that the teachers are finding difficulty in dealing with the situations which they encounter and they leave the students unsupervised a lot of times as a result. Therefore, the Chief Education Officer along with a technical team has visited the school with the aim of bringing the school to some degree of discipline.”
The Education Minister said he met with Acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams and Sgt Wayne Mystar on Monday, and they had discussed programmes which are expected to be implemented in schools to deal with indiscipline.