Gadsby-Dolly: Some students fighting for social media fame

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Minister of Education Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly. – FILE PHOTO/JEFF K MAYERS

Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly said some students who fight do so specifically so they can be filmed and posted on social media.

At the post-Cabinet media briefing on Thursday, Gadsby-Dolly said there were police patrols in and around schools which traditionally had a history of violence, to prevent fights, but there were also incidents in schools which didn’t have that history.

“Part of that is the fact that the fighting and so on is shared so widely on social media. There are children who take very great pleasure in seeing themselves on social media, and so in some cases they plan what they’re going to do and they execute that plan, and then they look at the video very gleefully because they feel like superstars.

“You have to understand we live in an age where people make a living out of being a social-media content creator, so these are things we have that are new to the environment now, and with the expanded use of technology during the pandemic, our students are very versatile, a lot of them have very good phones and recording equipment, etc, so they use these things and that’s part of it.”

Gadsby-Dolly said the ministry was working with other ministries, such as Social Development and Family Services to reach out to families of students, Youth Development and National Service, National Security to provide alternative education environments such as the MiLat model, and Sport and Community Development for their peer mediation division, as the Education Ministry could not solve the problem of school violence on its own. She said the ministry saw the need to encourage students to behave positively rather than focusing solely on consequences for negative actions.

She said additional measures being considered to decrease violence in schools prone to it included dedicated support officers; assigning learning support assistance for supervision; training for teachers and principals, as teachers have to be trained to be able to deliver the curriculum; parenting and education sessions; life skills sessions; and proper maintenance of facilities, including those for extracurricular activities, visual and performing arts, and sports.

She appealed to parents to work with schools in the best interests of their children, as she said when student support services officers approached the parents of children who were having disciplinary issues, their attitudes left a lot to be desired.

“Parenting is not for the faint of heart, nor is it easy, and we can’t close our eyes to what our children do. All of us as parents would wish our children were 100 per cent perfect, but the fact is they are not.

“Neither are we, and therefore as parents we need to collaborate with our school officials, work along with them in the best interests of our children.

“If you are presented with a situation where you feel it should be handled differently, there is a way to do it so that you don’t work against the school administration. We can object if we have to, but a spirit of collaboration is necessary.

“So we’re asking parents, please pay attention to your children. It’s important that our children know there are consequences at home for their actions. So if they know that, it guides their behaviour at school, and it would make the work of the teachers and student support services that much easier.”

Gadsby-Dolly asked parents and students to familiarise themselves with the national school code of conduct, which can be found on the ministry’s website.