Green Island, Hanover — The Hanover police are reporting a surge in gangs and other violent activities involving students within the Green Island area, since the start of the new school year in September.
Head of the Green Island Police Station Inspector Mervin Hodges told the Jamaica Observer that the police have been called out to intervene and mediate in violent activities involving students and have found that adults have been encouraging the student gangsters.
"We have adults cheering them on, not to say stop. At school a little dispute develops between students and you have parents intervening and pushing the violence further," lamented Hodges.
He said on Fridays police are usually prepared for gang violence on the road in the Green Island, Negril and Orange Bay space.
While there are two secondary schools (Green Island High and Rhodes Hall High) within the Green Island police area, Hodges singled out Rhodes Hall High which he said is a reflection of the violence epidemic in communities in Hanover. He argued that it is up to parents and guardians to chart the right path for students.
Hodges, who was addressing the relaunch of the Green Island Police Youth Club on Sunday, said that there is a need for conflict resolution, mediation, and other types of social engagement to deal with youth violence, and urged stakeholders to partner with the police in rebuilding community pride.
Rhodes Hall High School student Timothy Kent, who is also the junior mayor of Lucea, was awarded for his performance in the fields of discipline, teamwork, and being an advocate for peace.
"I am elated to be receiving this for the small significant work that I have been doing for the school currently, and this is why I encourage my fellow youth to get enrolled in programmes that will motivate them and allow youth to be good and outstanding citizens," said Kent.
He argued that good things are happening at his school.
"From outside of the school it may seem as if the school is not on top of its game, however — as you can see — I am an example of the good that is inside of the school," said Kent.
Deputy head girl of Rhodes Hall High, Annecia Dennett, who was awarded for her work in the fields of discipline, teamwork and being an advocate for peace, said she was happy for the award.
"On starting Rhodes Hall High School I wasn't the best student. Throughout the past three years I started to improve and I try my best. On receiving this award I have felt that I have been doing my best and I have accomplished something in the five years, going six, at the Rhodes Hall High School," stated Dennett as she pointed to some of the challenges facing the school.
"Students tend not to be interested in going to class [as they prefer] participating in gang activities. The prefect body is trying to build our programme where we can assist those students with homework programme and discipline," she said.
She also encouraged students who are having challenges at home, or issues with the system of education, to seek help from the prefect or student council body.
Dean of discipline at Rhodes Hall High School Gregory Hewitt, who was commended by Inspector Hewitt for his work in the school, said Kent and Dennett were selected by his department and endorsed by the administration.
He said the two are outstanding students with strong leadership qualities
Hewitt was also happy about the partnership formed between the school and the Green Island police.
"When we partner, our students will become the voice of success so those students in our communities who need help can see real examples of what good behaviour looks like and what is expected in school," said Hewitt.
He noted that while the school has its fair share of challenges with fights and stabbings, there have been improvements.
"Some students were brought to book, both at the school and at the [police] station. These students are now being corrected but on the other side, we see where most of our students have been transformed [by] correcting their behaviour through social intervention within the school and externally.
"So, through the Dean of Discipline Department [and] the Guidance Department, we have been working with the programmes that we have internally and partnering with restorative justice and the other government agencies to assist all students who are having conflict resolution challenges, as well as those who are finding it difficult to conform to the rules and standards," said Hewitt,
In the meantime, head of the Hanover Police Division Superintendent Sharon Beeput told the young people gathered at the function that this is their opportunity to be true nation-builders.
"Practise peacemaking, exercise leadership skills, and make productive decisions in your personal and public affairs. The police are here to give you full support," stated Superintendent Beeput who also encouraged the public to give the youth their support.
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