Zero tolerance for violence among students – counselling officer
There has been a recent spate of violence reported in schools by students throughout the country. Speaking with Guyana Times on the issue, Senior Guidance and Counselling Officer for the Schools’ Welfare Unit Vickram Mohabir on Monday said that the welfare unit has in each education district, guidance and counselling officers, who address violence in schools.
He stated that the Ministry has a robust system where guidance and counselling officers in various regions frequently visit schools offering informative talks on violent and non-violent behaviour. According to Mohabir, the Ministry has zero tolerance for violence and violent behaviour among students and has been offering more counselling and monitoring of behaviour of students in schools throughout the country. He believes this initiative has been bearing fruit since they have recorded a decrease in violent activities in schools. He pointed out that while efforts are being made to tackle this issue, it was observed that schools in Regions Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara), Four (Demerara-Mahaica) and Georgetown have higher occurrences of these incidents.
Mohabir explained that in cases where a violent act by a student or students may have occurred, the counsellors would offer counselling to both the victim and perpetrator and will begin monitoring the perpetrator. This monitoring involves the student making regular visits to the relevant region’s welfare department.
In addition, Mohabir disclosed that the Ministry is working in collaboration with the Ministry of Public Security, which implemented a new policy and are working to develop a diversion method to tackle similar issues escalating in schools.
According to Mohabir, the root causes of violent behaviour were found to be dysfunctional families and poverty. He explained that students exposed to violent behaviour in their communities often act out those behavioural patterns in school. He added that the officers have also found a direct link to poverty as students with limited means revert to bullying and aggressive behaviour which triggers violence. “What we have found is that the children with limited means are those prone to bullying other students which result in violent behaviours,” he explained.
Mohabir pointed out that the Ministry’s Health and Family Life Education subject as part of schools’ curriculum has been bearing fruit in aiding positive behaviours among students since it focuses on life and negotiation skills, conflict resolution, non-violence and sexuality.
Just recently, a student of the Covent Garden Secondary School was attacked and stabbed several times by classmates to his chest, puncturing his lung. He underwent two emergency surgeries and is recovering at home while the young men responsible were placed before the juvenile court and were placed on bail.
Two other incidents also surfaced on social media in the form of videos showing a student physically abusing a teacher and another video went viral where a student was brutalising a fellow student while other students videoed.