KINGSTON, Jamaica – The police were kept busy in downtown Kingston last week trying to round up students who were seemingly prepared to miss school for the day.
After more than an hour, the police held nine girls and a boy – dressed in uniform – from one high school, who were absconding.
Knives, ice picks and other weapons were seized by the cops, with one teenage girl charged with possession of offensive weapons.
“It is a daily occurrence for us. We find them loitering in sections of downtown Kingston, in the bathrooms of food establishments and in the arcade,” Special Constable Salmon Stewart told The Gleaner as his team prepared to take the students to their school.
“When they see the police, they run and we have to chase them. We have to put them on buses, ensure that they paid their fares and when they get down the road, they come off and don’t go to school,” Stewart said.
He said one girl who was among those rounded up had a pair of skimpy shorts and a blouse in her bag, obviously prepared for a day out rather than going to classes.
Some of the students told The Gleaner that they were headed to school and were waiting on buses, even though they were held by the police almost one hour after the school day started.
However, one girl made no such excuse as she left little doubt that she saw school as an appointment that she could miss.
“School start anytime me get there, me no have no special time fi go a school,” the small-bodied teenager told The Gleaner.
“Is a good thing me never carry my knife today,” another of the girls declared.
Her schoolmate, who was charged after she was found with a knife and an ice pick in her bag claimed that she was carrying the weapons because she was worried about a rumoured the spate of abductions.
The other students were taken to school by the police and handed over to administrators.
The principal at the school said disciplinary action would be taken against the girl who has been charged. He also reported that there was a problem with delinquent students.
Education Minister Andrew Holness has insisted that students who engage in criminal practices must be dealt with by the police.
Last week, Prime Minister Bruce Golding held a meeting with education stakeholders to discuss the high incidence of crime and violence in schools.
During the meeting, it was decided that students with acute behavioural problems should be taken out of the regular education system and placed in special institutions as part of efforts to stem the violence.
This will give the students time out and allow the schools to function without the disruptive elements.