Child activist recommends immediate screening of all students
Threats at School of the Nation
Outspoken child-rights activist Nicole Cole has called for an immediate intervention into the situation at Nations Incorporated (School of the Nations) and is recommending that all the students at the private educational institution be screened for social and or psychological issues.
Cole’s recommendation comes in light of the Sunday shooting of the school’s principal Dr Brian O’Toole and prior threats posted on social media allegedly by a student. The Rights of the Child Commissioner said while security is vital, the school needs to get to the root of the problem.
“The death threats are real because the principal is now recovering after being shot to the arm. So, we know that persons intended to harm him. And so parents need to protect their children by all means necessary. This will require them to be vigilant,” she told Guyana Times.
But equally important, Cole, a trained social worker said that parents have a responsibility to check on their children and ensure that they are doing the right thing. “I used to police my son bag and parents could do simple things like that before they leave the vehicle or home.”
Cole said parents who are licensed firearm holders, will have to now check to ensure that those firearms are not in close reach of their children. She argued that no child should be able to have easy access to their parents’ handgun, and extra caution should be taken now.
“We don’t know as yet whose gun was used in the shooting of Dr O’Toole, whether it’s a student, an adult, or a student used a parent’s gun, or the gun used was from the streets; she pointed out, explaining that the social media post prior to the shooting tells a story.
Cole was referring to threats which appeared on social media and directed to the school. The school’s administration made it clear that they were taking the threats which also named one teacher of the school, very seriously, when a meeting was held Sunday.
The person(s) making the threats pointed out that there is a “plethora” of them who have been hurt and overlooked by the school and taken for granted. The threats also cautioned students about showing up for classes this week, and the picture of a gun was included in the post. Last week the school expelled a student who threatened to bring harm to students.
“Because of this apparent break down, the trigger stems from something that happened in the environment. Look at the post that person made. Something happened to that student who used the word ‘overlooked’. So in other words, the student feel justice was not served.”
Cole said based on her training, the post could be interpreted as a student that was unhappy about an action taken against him/her. “It could be more than one thing. Could it be that the student was overlooked for the position of a prefect, or overlooked in some other way? Whatever it is the word overlooked has many connotations. That in itself says that this student(s) also has self-esteem issues. That is why I am advocating for clinical assessment of all students. Everyone should have a screening. You screen for violence, for suicide, homicidal inclinations.”
The school closed its doors on Monday while outlining that measures are being put in place following the shooting incident.
In a management statement issued to parents, Nations said: “In light of recent unfortunate events; we wish to advise that our school will be closed today (January 28 2019) as we assess our current security measures with an objective to ensuring that our students, staff and premises are safe and secured.”
They continued that “We are relieved to inform everyone that Dr O’Toole is stable and well. We once again assure you that our primary concern is for our students and staff and we will ensure that adequate measures are put in place”
Police are said to be investigating the matter also.