A screen grab at a fight at the Siparia West Secondary School.

Acting Commissioner of Police McDonald Jacob says videos of school fights circulating on social media are engaging the attention of the police.

However, Jacob said the Cyber Crime Unit must first ascertain if these are in fact recent events.

“In some instances, we have situations that have occurred recently but in other instances, people are putting up footage from years ago, so we want the reporters to look at them carefully because you will see instances where nobody wearing masks. We have instances where people put up videos at 9 pm and said it happened an hour ago and when you watch you seeing the sun in the sky,” Jacob said during a media conference hosted by the Ministry of National Security yesterday.

In the meantime, Jacob said divisional commanders are there to deal with any forms of violence.

“We have school liaison officers and then we have the community police. So when dealing with young people and violence, there is a certain sort of approach you need to take and they are so trained in how to handle that situation, if it goes beyond we will use the normal criminal justice system to deal with it.”

Meanwhile, parents are calling for the Ministry of Education (MoE) to remove ‘trouble makers’ and ill-disciplined students from the general school population.

The request was made by the Concerned Parents Movement of Trinidad and Tobago (CPMTT) following a recent upsurge of school violence which has been highlighted on social media platforms.

“These children that are creating havoc in the schools, separate them for the time being. If the rest of the school is coming for 8 o’clock, then let them come to school for 9, let them stay in class when everyone is out,” CPMTT president Clarence Mendoza said.

On Tuesday (February 22), Guardian Media highlighted issues of violence and extortion at the Siparia West Government School, where one student was stabbed at the beginning of the new school term.

The Education Ministry has since intervened.

However, Mendoza said the issue is nationwide.

“La Romaine Secondary, Marabella Secondary, Princes Town East and West Secondary, all the way to Chaguanas North and South and Port-of-Spain schools and the Ministry of Education is aware. Parents don’t want to send their children to school right now.”

But it’s more than just locking students away in a separate classroom. The CPMTT believes they need psychological intervention. Its president said poor mental health is a driving factor in their behaviour.

Mendoza added that what has been seen over the past few days is what happens when children are just brought back into a system without giving them the avenues and tools to process the pandemic.

“We should have known what the effects have done to our children. We had asked for the period September 2021 to January 2022 to be utilised to have guidance officers do a programme for the children, where the children can give their views on how they are feeling, how are things at home, did they even have food at home?”

The CPMTT is also calling for a return of sports programmes in the schools, as patterns of violence show that it is most prevalent in schools where the bulk of its yearly intake are students who scored below 30 in the Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) examinations.

The group said the re-introduction of technical vocational studies is also an integral tool to combating violent behaviour.

“They need an avenue, they may not be able to keep up with the English and Mathematics, we need to give them other opportunities whether it be welding, sewing or cake decorating,” Mendoza said.

Het said there is a case study that shows its effectiveness as the Pleasantville Secondary School was able to instil discipline at the school by simply introducing a home economics/cooking class.