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‘I am not surprised’

By JANELLE DE SOUZA Monday, April 7 2014

click on pic to zoom in
TTUTA president Davanand Sinanan....
TTUTA president Davanand Sinanan....

SAYING that while he is saddened and concerned by reports of students engaging in sexual activities in a central Trinidad school, president of the TT Unified Teachers’ Association (TTUTA) Davanand Sinanan yesterday said this was not an isolated act and therefore he is not surprised and other persons also should not be surprised.

According to reports, three female Form One students were caught performing oral sex on male students in a classroom at a school in central Trinidad shortly before midday last Wednesday. They were caught by a security guard who ordered the 12 students to the office of the vice-principal. A report was also lodged with the cunupia police.

According to Sinanan, the issue was that students were sexually active, “in such a flagrant manner.” He said, “Children don’t engage in acts of sex just like that. It is a question of what they are exposed to. It is a reflection of the society in which we are living — a promiscuous society.”

Sinanan said there was Sexual Education in schools in some form, but the problem was sometimes deeper than could be addressed by talk. “In many instances, young ladies are involved in the sex trade as a means of economic survival, sometimes with the knowledge and consent of their parents, usually their mother in a single-parent home. That is a reality we have to contend with,” he said.

“There’s a whole socio-economic dimension that we have to look at. We do what we can with respect to education but the hard reality is that we lack the relevant social support services to effectively deal with these issues,” he added.

He noted that, as a school administrator, the police would have to be contacted and the necessary investigation conducted to determine if charges will be laid under the Sexual Offences Act. “We would inform the parents, then bring in the Guidance Unit into the picture, or refer the matter to the Student Support Services Unit of the Ministry of Education so as to undertake the counselling dimension,” he said.

National Parent Teacher Association (TTNPTA) Vice-President, Maureen Paylor-Ryan condemned all of the children’s behaviour, saying it was “totally unacceptable.” Paylor-Ryan believed it was necessary to have more safety officers or possibly parent volunteers on the compound, because there was no supervision when the children were on a break. She said if the incident happened before the lunch break, the children should have been in a class. She made several suggestions saying if the students were skipping class, there should be a system in place to find them and empty classes should be locked.

She believed some children are looking for love and equating it with sex, some could be experimenting, while others could be working. She also suggested it could be bullying or peer pressure, while others could be experiencing sexual abuse at home.

“The entire community has to get involved in child rearing. We allow children to do whatever they want and that needs to change. I think a lot of parents are irresponsible. We need more parenting programmes,” she said.

Paylor-Ryan also said there was a need to teach morals and values in the school system and in the home. She noted that material with sexual content was readily available on cable and on the internet as parents need to monitor what the children are watching, perhaps even confiscating electronic tablets, cellphones, laptops and other devices at nights.

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