Wednesday, 25 June 2008

A Sad Tale at a Primary School

Ok, so there are some aspects of life on Anguilla which show that it is just like everywhere else. I was sad to witness an incident at the Stoney Ground primary school today which was not pleasant and which reminded me that there is conflict everywhere, not least on an idyllic Caribbean island.

I volunteer my time one afternoon a week at the school, helping to teach English to children who are speakers of other languages. This afternoon the children arrived full of news.

The secondary (high) school is just up the road and there is a pupil from the school who has taken to turning up at the primary school and playing with the younger children, particularly the girls. I do not know what, if anything, has been said about this, but the fact is that today he turned up and one of the primary school boys attacked him with a large piece of wood. When a female teacher intervened, the primary boy punched the teacher, knocking her glasses off and one earring from her ear. What provoked this violence I do not know, as I arrived just after it all happened, when the language students were full of excitement and eager to tell me all about it in their broken English. The police had been called and the parents of the children involved had been asked to come to the school.

My class began and we used the incident to practise conversation. I should explain that there is no particular area set aside for these lessons and so we are a nomadic little group. Today we found ourselves working in the waiting room outside the Principal's office. Thus it was that we were there when first the police arrived and then the mother of one of the children involved. They came through our class and into the office.

The children, agog, had flapping ears and little attention. The murmur of voices from inside the office gradually grew louder and louder and LOUDER, to the point where we could not hear ourselves speak and were forced to stop the lesson. The door flew open and the mother erupted, shouting and clearly angry, and stormed out. The children whispered that she was the mother of the child who had attacked the other boy and the teacher. It was obvious that she was not in the least concerned about what the boy had done, or why and would not listen to anything said to her. At least one of the policemen had lost his temper and so they ended up yelling at each other in front of my little 12 year olds. One of them later confided that, "It was the most thrilling thing she had ever seen!"

My point is this, that such a thing happened, for whatever reason, is bad enough. That the adults could not sort it out in a manner befitting their age was worse. That it ended with one of the parents storming out and taking her offspring with her is worse still. That the row happened in front of impressionable children is unforgivable. What does all of this sorry incident teach all the children involved? The police later said they were powerless to do anything but talk to the children and their parents. If the parents would not listen, they could not make them.

I have to ask, what is to stop an incident like this happening again if there are no measures that can be taken against violent pupils, and their parents are not interested?


Anonymous said...

Yes a sad tale indeed - I think the violent films, TV and computer games dont help.

Penny Legg said...

You may well be right. I did not have all the facts as to why this happened in the first place but was very concerned about what was said and the manner in which it was said in front of the children. It compounded a problem and made it worse.