School violence concerns ministers

The recent threat against a five-year-old boy outside East End Primary School was addressed publicly by two Cayman Islands Cabinet Ministers during the Legislative Assembly’s on-going budget debate.

‘What is particularly distressing to me is that it occurred (near) a primary school,’ said Education Minister Alden McLaughlin. ‘Most of the disciplinary issues we’ve had have been at high schools.’

‘These things are going to happen,’ said Works and Infrastructure Minister Arden McLean, who also represents East End district. ‘But I’m concerned about it, certainly.’

The incident occurred 1 May while the five-year-old Year 1 student was walking home. According to the child’s mother, a Year 6 student from East End Primary held a pocket knife to her son’s throat.

Veronica Cole said her nephew, a Year 3 student, was first threatened by the older boy who Ms Cole said wanted the younger kids to give him some food.

Ms Cole said her son was threatened after he tried to push the older boy off her nephew.

Last week, Ministry of Education spokesman Louis Payne said school officials were still looking into claims Ms Cole made about a separate incident involving another child at East End Primary.

The Year 6 boy has been suspended, and a Ministry press release stated that measures were being taken to ensure the boy’s supervision outside of school.

Mr. McLean said he intends to meet with the ministers responsible for education and family services to discuss restarting after school programmes through some local churches. But he admitted that’s only part of the solution.

‘A majority of the social problems that occur in this and any country is due to parenting,’ Mr. McLean said.

Mr. McLean said many of the parents who live in East End are plagued by long hours at work, and long commutes, which leaves little time to spend at home.

‘I sympathise with the victim’s parents, but I don’t believe (the 1 May incident) was done with any malicious intent,’ he said. ‘I don’t mean to down-play it, but sometimes these things happen.’

Ms Cole said in a previous interview with the Caymanian Compass that the boy who she said threatened her son needs help. But she said the school’s decision to suspend the Year 6 student didn’t go far enough.

‘He needs to be out of that school,’ she said.

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