By Rachael Espinet Wednesday, March 19 2014
Ten female students have been suspended following a fight outside Mucurapo West Secondary School, St James last Friday.
This was confirmed yesterday by Alicia Busby, Head of Communications for the Ministry of Education.
This brawl took place on Mucurapo Road near the school. It was filmed by a student using a camera phone and uploaded to the popular video-sharing website YouTube. The video was then circulated on social media sites.
This video showed scores of students, crowded around two girls struggling with each other in a ditch. The fight escalated as other girls joined the fracas.
A police officer in plainclothes tried to stop the brawl. The video showed the officer physically restraining one girl by the neck; however, the fight continued with other students jumping in the fray. The officer was telling the students to “find their way home”.
Many students were shown filming the fight with their cellphones. The video ended with the students walking away.
Senior Superintendent Ishmael David told Newsday yesterday the matter is now being investigated by the Community Police Unit in the Western Division.
Other sources revealed some students were interviewed and the off-duty police officer, who is the main eye witness, is to be interviewed. Investigators are expected to view footage from YouTube to assist with the case.
Davanand Sinanan, president of the Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA), said the same violent situations in schools keep recurring, but nothing sufficient is being done.
Referring to a previous incident where a secondary student was stabbed in a school in south Trinidad, Sinanan said, “You have a stabbing in the school and it hits the media. Three days later it dies down, and then another violent issue repeats the cycle.”
Sinanan said violent acts happen in schools, but the public only receives “sporadic glimpses” when incidents such as the fight are reported in the media.
“The unfortunate reality is that these are the problems with violence we deal with on a daily basis. Very often we spend half of our time dealing with violence and bullying. Violence hinders how we could affect the academic system,” Sinanan said.
Sinanan said school violence is a reflection of the wider society. He said these issues need to be dealt with so the problems in schools can be corrected.
Margaret Sampson-Browne, head of the Victim and Witness Support Unit, has said there is an increase of abuse of young girls, that may cause violent outbursts to occur.
Speaking on a morning talk show yesterday, Sampson-Browne said, “From July last year to December, the Victim and Witness Support Unit has intervened in a high percentage of abuse occurring in the home including sexual abuse involving girls.”
Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley has described the behaviour of the students as “hyenas in the African jungle.” Rowley was speaking at th People’s National Movement Political Leader’s Visit at Arima North Government Primary School, Arima Old Road on Monday night. He said the students fight knowing that nothing will happen, and their disregard for authority was “frightening”.
He said the girls in the video should face “some serious disciplinary charge of one kind or the other” so they can understand what they call a right is in fact a privilege to go to a secondary school.
“If that is how you behave, then there are consequences to it,” Rowley said.
The video circulating on Facebook gathered a lot of attention and public commentary. In the comment section of Facebook more than 200 people discussed the fight. This video was shared more than 1,200 times.
Roberto Mosan commented, “It’s such a shame to see young people acting like this and disrespecting elders. They should be in a sport or some sort of activity to occupy themselves. If not studying to be a great example for this country! According to the Mighty Sparrow education is the key! Not fighting!” He was referring to calypso icon Slinger Francisco’s 1967 classic “Education”.
Education Minister Dr Tim Gopeesingh was not available for a comment because he was attending a Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai.
Newsday was unable to get a comment from Acting Education Minister Marlene Coudray. Chief Education Officer Harrilal Seecharan declined to comment on the situation until he reads a report to be compiled by ministry officials.