by HEATHER-LYNN EVANSON
CRIME STOPPERS BARBADOS will be going into Grantley Adams Memorial Secondary School in an attempt to help students there manage their anger. This has been revealed by programme director Sherie Holder-Olutayo, who said the organisation had reached out to the administration of the Blackman’s, St Joseph school in the wake of last Tuesday’s incident which saw three 15-year-old boys being stabbed and a girl being struck with a rock after an incident on the compound.
The school was not one of those in which Crime Stoppers had its Sandy Lane Charitable Trust-sponsored Cool Yuh Head programme, Holder-Olutayo admitted. “We are now targeting Grantley Adams,” she told the DAILY NATION. “Our administrative assistant has already put out calls to them in light of what has happened. So we will be looking to get them on board.”
She revealed Crime Stoppers Barbados had made a similar outreach to Ellerslie School late last year after it had a violent incident there. “We are now at Ellerslie because we reached out to them after the incident [in November in which two Ellerslie boys suffered serious injuries as a result of a cutlass attack] and so we are there this semester. But we go back to schools from time to time, especially if there have been years when we haven’t covered a particular school,” Holder-Olutayo noted. The programme, she stressed, was clearly needed in secondary schools as the levels of violence had increased significantly. “It is disheartening and unfortunate that we are seeing far too many incidents of violence in our secondary schools because, clearly, something is wrong at a societal level that needs to be urgently addressed, so that we can stop this unruly behaviour and save the lives and futures of this country’s children.
Resolving conflicts “It is too important for us not to be reaching these children and teaching them how to resolve their anger and handle conflicts in a more stable and positive manner. They don’t need to resort to violence to get their points across. Things can be resolved quietly and for the betterment of everybody involved,” she said. Holder-Olutayo dismissed suggestions the Cool Yuh Head programme was only in certain schools. The programme’s facilitators had worked from Parkinson to Queen’s College, she said. “It is across the board. There are some schools we haven’t reached yet and there are some we have gone back to,” Holder- Olutayo said, as she urged more of corporate Barbados to sponsor the programme. The programme has been running for nine years and has reached more than 13 000 students. It targets students in first to fourth forms. Holder-Olutayo said it had been reaping success. “The guidance counsellors and principals respond to it. We have had students come up to our facilitators to hand in drugs and other paraphernalia, telling them they no longer want to commit to that lifestyle. So we definitely have seen a change.”
The initiative from Crime Stoppers comes days after the alumni of the West St Joseph/ Grantley Adams Memorial Past Students Association indicated it would be seeking a meeting with the executive of the school and the Ministry of Education to get to the bottom of the violence issue. Meanwhile, two 14-year-old boys of the school have been
remanded to the Government Industrial School after they appeared in court on serious bodily harm charges, while a 16-year-old boy who pleaded guilty to causing a disturbance, was released on bail pending sentencing.