Principals’ head: Be sensitive to mental state of aggressive students

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Students of San Fernando Central Secondary School, walk toward the main entrance at the end of the school day. – ROGER JACOB

PRESIDENT of the Secondary Schools Principal Association Sheera Carrington-James has asked the public to be sensitive to the mental and emotional state of students who have been showing violent behaviour at schools.

Carrington-James spoke to Newsday by phone after another video of a school fight surfaced on social media this week.

The one-minute video showed two female students of the Mucurapo East Secondary School in a scuffle in a class. The girls were surrounded by other students, some of whom tried to interveneet. Others were seen recording the fight.

Carrington-James said, “Like adults they have been through more than any other year group, any other cohort of students, caused by trauma from the pandemic.

“Even the agencies to support them are overwhelmed themselves, and there we as principals, stakeholders, and the entire community must have the level of empathy to intervene.”

She said what was needed was an assessment to support students so that these incidents did not occur, pointing out that some may be due to the circumstances of the last two years, those of the covid19 pandemic. She said all stakeholders must take a closer look at the kind of support students needed now.

“This type of behaviour cannot be condoned, but the answer is, they have to be supported to ameliorate the situation.”

But TT Unified Teachers Association president Antonia De Freitas said school fights are not a new occurrence and indiscipline cannot be linked to covid19.

“We are aware that there has always been violence in schools. I’m not sure there has been an increase (in fights). We have not gotten that information yet. The ministry will have to verify if we have a statistical increase in school fights and violence.”

She said it was the Ministry of Education’s responsibility to put the right measures and procedures in place to ensure the safety of all students.

Contacted for comment, the minister, Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly, told Newsday the school’s principal is dealing with the matter.