Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 19th 2014 Contents GEISHA KOWLESSAR
Ten female students of the Mucurapo
West Secondary School have been sus-
pended for one week for their involvement
in a fight outside the school last Friday.
This was confirmed yesterday by the Edu-
cation Ministry, which said a full investi-
gation had been launched. A ministry official
said the probe would entail taking statements
from the students involved and witnesses.
A final report will then be submitted to
Education Minister Dr Tim Gopeesingh,
who is currently in Dubai.
The victim of the attack, however, has
been targeted by other students for over
two years and complaints to school author-
ities did little to curb the attacks, her mother
told the media yesterday.
The fight, which was captured via a cell-
phone and was posted on various social
media sites, including Facebook, has gone
It showed a gang of about 12 students
beating a particular girl, who was shoved
to the ground, kicked and cuffed during a
brawl witnessed by several other students
At one point, it appeared there was an
attempt to drag the girl by the hair, which
was cheered on by other students.
The three-and-a-half minute video also
showed the students going through heavy
traffic in pursuit of their target and a man
who identified himself as a police officer
who eventually intervened to stop the fight.
As he was parting the fight and taking
away one of the attackers, however, he was
repeatedly cursed by the other girls.
Some people posted shocked reactions
on Facebook, while others said that was
nothing new as bullying and beatings were
considered the norm in public schools.
Victim bullied over two years
However, the victim's mother, in a tel-
evision interview, said that was not the first
time her daughter had been attacked.
She said her child had been a victim of
bullying for over two years and the perpe-
trators were often suspended but continued
their attacks when they returned to school.
She said her daughter was threatened
earlier on Friday and reported it to the prin-
cipal but that still did not prevent the girls
from attacking her after school. They have
since reported the mater to the ministry
and the police.
President of the T&T Unified Teachers'
Association (TTUTA) Devanand Sinanan
yesterday said it represented a much larger
social problem which needed immediate
He said for far too long teachers and prin-
cipals have been "crying out in the wilder-
ness" and begging for social workers who
would extend their services to the homes
of troubled students.
"Teachers have to deal with bullying and
violence on a daily basis. In many instances
when we investigate, the problem stems
from the home and nine out of ten times
we do not get the support from the parents,"
He said TTUTA has been having ongoing
discussion with chairman of the Police Serv-
ice Commission, Prof Ramesh Deosaran, to
determine how best to tackle the problem.
"We need to look at this seriously if we
want to get to the root cause of the problem.
As it is we do not even have enough guidance
officers in schools.
"We as a society first need to acknowledge
there is a grave problem in the nation's
schools. We have become a very violent
society," he added.
On whether there should be increased
police patrols at troubled schools, especially
upon dismissal, Sinanan said the police were
doing all they could.
"In many instances the police have
responded and responded quickly. They do
all they could, given the circumstances, but
we do not want our schools to reduce to a
state where there is the constant presence
of police officers," he added.
The behaviour of the students showed a
blatant disregard for the authorities and
those guilty must face the consequences,
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Mom of beaten girl in school attack:
for 18th MARCH, 2014
Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley urged on a political
platform on Monday night.
"Their disregard for authority was frightening and
we need to address those things, and the basis for
addressing it is that there must be consequences for
their behaviour but either we have no mechanisms
in place to have it done or we have no will to do it,"
Rowley said. (See page A10)
"In any normal situation where the order of the
day was acceptable to the people involved, all of
those girls in that video should face some serious
disciplinary charges, so what they call a right is in
fact a privilege to go to a secondary school. If that
is how you behave, there are consequences to it."
He described the students who were videotaped
fighting as "behaving like hyenas in the African
Saying it was also important to address issues
facing the community and homes, Rowley added:
"Crime pays some people today, including people
from the university, some of them with long gowns
in the court. We have to address community standards,
community relations and household responsibility."
Public must intervene
Head of the Victims and Witness Support Unit of
the Police Service Margaret Sampson-Browne said
she was appalled that drivers refused to get out of
their cars to separate the fighting girls.
"Cars were actually bumper-to-bumper. Couldn't
anybody at least come out and say something? We
don't want you to scramble and beat the child but
at least come and say something," Sampson-Browne
She said the girls were angry and felt the need to
defend themselves, even against the defenceless.
However, she did say she believed the perpetrators
should face charges for the attack, since they com-
mitted at least two crimes: Fighting publicly and
She was bullied for two years
A screen shot from the video of the brawl outside the Mucurapo West Secondary last
Friday shows two girls attacking each other in the road.
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