If you have been paying attention to news reports in both traditional and social media, you cannot help concluding that some students in Jamaican schools are out of control.
There were reports of a student at a primary school engaging the school’s principal in a physical confrontation culminating in the principal’s doctor prescribing her some sick leave.
The dean of discipline at a high school was the recipient of a number of punches to his face courtesy of a 12th grade male student.
The same 12th grade student was arrested days later, after returning to school armed with an ‘ice pick’ and making threats against the injured teacher.
One video making the rounds on social media, recorded a brawl between a male and a female student, at the same high school where the teacher was recorded threatened to ‘murder’ a student!
In this video, the opening scene saw a teacher desperately trying to keep the combatants from ripping each other to shreds, but the students were bent on causing bodily harm.
The teacher had to beat a hasty retreat when the fighters started hurling classroom furniture at each other with amazing dexterity, as their classmates roared them on while capturing cell phone footage for online sharing!
The scene was reminiscent of a fight between gladiators in the Coliseum in Rome.
Another video featured a fight involving three (3) school girls proudly decked out in their school uniform. This brawl was of a more conventional nature replete with kicks, punches and pulling of hair.
A third video surfaced featuring fighting school boys in uniform. This time it took the intervention of a policeman, who was compelled to fire a warning shot, to break-up the brawl and disperse the adoring fight fans.
Those are just the ones that have come to my attention and I am assured there is no shortage of videos showing confrontations between students and teachers and student on student violence.
The minister with responsibility for education is suggesting social media is making the situation appear worse than it is, as incidents of violence in schools are relatively rare.
The president of the teachers’ union disagrees and is calling for teachers to be armed with non-lethal weapons to defend themselves when attacked.
I find the union leader more credible as his members are in the direct line of fire.
With many schools suffering from a shortage of teachers in critical subjects, a solution to students’ behaviour is urgently needed to prevent acceleration in teachers departing classrooms.
If a solution is not found, I would not be surprised if the teachers’ union begins demanding a hazard allowance and teachers’ dress code becomes suits of armour!
School administrators may also need to consider bolting school furniture to the floor, as in one video, furniture were transformed into missiles with frightening ease and speed!
On a serious note though, we are a violent society and the behaviour in school is simply a reflection of the society.
There is no silver bullet.
We require a determined, concentrated effort by all stakeholders (government, parents, students, teachers, church and community) to pull us from the abyss of crime, violence, incivility and indiscipline into which we have descended.
May God help us!