On October 21 this year, a group of Queen’s College students were robbed of their money and cell phones on Camp Street while they were going to their after school extra lessons. One day earlier, another Queen’s College student was robbed at the bus stop. And just three days prior, a Christ Church student was stabbed and robbed of his cell phone at the corner of Camp and Robb Street.
In February, the media reported, “Seven students fell victim to robbery … resulting in a quantity of cash and valuables being stolen, while in the vicinity of Macaw Lane, South Ruimveldt, Georgetown…The traumatised youngsters are said to be between the ages of 15 and 16 and are attached to the South Ruimveldt Secondary School”.
In October last year, the media had reported: “Sixth form Queen’s College student Renée Daniels was robbed and stabbed multiple times … as he was heading home from a group he was volunteering with….in the vicinity of the Stabroek bus park”.
In September of last year, yet another media report stated that, “A student attached to a school on the West Coast of Demerara (WCD) was attacked and robbed …while making her way home from school….the student had just exited a minibus in Stewartville, WCD… the perpetrator accosted and choked her from behind before demanding that she hand over her valuables. The frightened teen handed over her backpack which contained her valuables, including money and her cell phone”.
As well, The Caribbean Voice is aware of other similar incidents that never made the media. In fact, comments on social reveal that similar attacks against students have been taking place across the coastland. For example, a number of posters stated that students are being regularly robbed in the Diamond-Grove area. Similar incidents were mentioned at Mon Repos, in Essequibo, on the Corentyne and so on. Added to that, the numerous UG students who have been attacked and robbed, both at Turkeyen and Tain and nursing students at New Amsterdam and the picture becomes absolutely, awfully, alarming.
Parents have been expressing their anger and frustration on social media and in interactions with The Caribbean Voice. Rightly or wrongly, the view was expressed that “President Granger campaigned on providing jobs for youth and ‘now we know what he was talking about’”. The fact is that the criminals are usually young people, mostly operating in bicycle gangs, or congregating in areas where students have to pass or wait for transportation. And since all those sports are public knowledge, one has to wonder why the Police do not take measures to patrol those areas when students are dismissed. The Police Force needs to establish a Schools Safety Division as an urgent imperative.
Meanwhile, parents are calling on the Minister of Public Security and the Police Commissioner to protect their children. As well, they are calling on the media to bring pressure to bear on the Government to implement measures to eliminate this trauma on their children. For The Caribbean Voice, our greatest concern is indeed the trauma and the attendant mental health issues that often arise and that can derail the education of some of these youngsters, if not their lives. As it is, our young people already face and deal with an overflowing plate as we have seen a rise in bullying and cutting, drugs and alcohol, sexual abuse and teenage pregnancy and depression, stress and suicide. Unless these pathologies are addressed without politically footballing them, Guyana’s future itself could become traumatic— oil money or no oil money.
The Caribbean Voice