School violence in Trinidad and Tobago

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In 2022, when physical school reopened the police and the Minister of Education quickly realised that the problem with school violence was bigger than the space between the Minister’s front teeth.

Within days the TTPS received reports of 4 school fights.

I started secondary school way back in 1994 and other than smoking and reading educational magazines like Playboy and Penthouse one of the most exciting things about school was school fights. We certainly didn’t have 4 fights a week but every term had at least two good fights.

I was in form one when I saw my first fight. I dunno. It was like the whole school came alive. You had students running from all corners we formed a circle around two girls who were fighting. Serious thing. One was always bawling:

“I tell you don’t talk to my man!”

I’m not making this up. I was there. One of the girls who was fighting was a girl who had hit me a slap my first week in school. A big red girl from Arima. She had a head shape like a orchard pack.

Back then i remember thinking, “I wish it had something to record this fight.”

And as the fight got worse and clothes started flying and the cheering got louder, like most boys my age, I remember thinking:

“I wonder if I going and see a breast today, boy.”

Let’s fast forward to 2022. In June, a female student stabbed and slashed another female student. In May a parent beat a school boy. In Tobago a student threatened to shoot up a school. In March a school boy at signal hill school in Tobago chopped another school boy. Around 1030, They had a dispute and after the incident school closed for the day; which tells me one thing; if you want school to over early school fights are more effective than bomb scares.

I’m not here to deal with underlying issues like parenting, family and financial problems; bullying, and how much porn your son watching online and coming in school and fondling and choking my daughter.

Oh. A 2017 nationwide school survey reported that a quarter of girls have experienced sexual violence by the age of 18.

It’s 2022. The TTPS now deals with cases of school violence. Not principals. I’m not making this up. This is an announcement issued by the Ministry of Education in April 2022. The Ministry of Education has also requested increased patrols at 15 problematic schools because suspension isn’t working and are working on a demerit/merit point system for unacceptable and positive behaviour where I guess the maximum penalty would probably be expulsion.

I remember when GP beat Brigo after school. This was back in 1995 or 1996. It was a planned fight. Everybody knew about it. After school. Outside the school compound. I was there! In the front row. And everybody behind me was like,

“Move your big head nah, boy.”

GP beat Brigo until you couldn’t recognize Brigo. And next day GP come to school normal normal and Brigo left school and became a calypsonian.

So whether it’s 1994, 2022 or 2050 School fights is a global problem and it’s here to stay.

Bringing back licks isn’t going to work. It didn’t work in my day. There’s nothing teachers can do. There’s nothing the Ministry of Education can do, about school violence or the space in the Minister’s teeth. There’s nothing the police CAN DO. As it stands it seems that their cybercrime unit have a hard time figuring out if some of the fights circulating on social media are in fact recent events, because, according to the acting commissioner, in the videos “you will see instances where nobody wearing masks.”

That is like me showing you a picture of a fete during the Covid pandemic and saying this fete probably took place in 2019 because no one is wearing a mask (true story).

Expelling and jailing students wouldn’t work. If you did that back in my day schools like five rivers and el do wouldn’t have any students. The only difference between then and now is that students have the technology to record and share these videos on social media. Which brings us to the solution.

Ask yourself this question. What would Column Imbert do if he was the Minister of Education? Easy. He’d find a way to tax school fights.

What the Ministry of education needs to do is find a way to make money off of these fights. Think about it. As it is, People share these videos on social media. For free. As it is The winners and losers get nothing except a kick or a cuff or a scar on their face.

So, yeah, monetize these fights. Show them on live tv Like wrestling or the movie death race. There’ll be a referee. There’d be a boxing ring. No knives. Students would have access to weapons like TABLES, chair legs, geometry set. You could have tag team matches, form five versus form one, revenge matches with parents versus students. With money and young boys involved the catholic schools will be the first to join the fight. Then the prestige schools will follow.

Everyone would be happy. Including the Minister of finance. He’d be happy like pappy because he’d have one more thing to tax.