The St Catherine South Police Division is to help train and empower student leaders to be ‘Violence Interrupters’ within their schools, under the Safe Schools Programme.
Commanding Officer for the Division, Christopher Phillips, provided details during a recently held ‘Voice of the Youth Student Leadership Symposium’, held at the 100-Man Police Station, Portmore, in the parish.
He said training will begin with recommended prefects and students who have great influence within the division’s eight Safe Schools.
“We want to be a part of how you (the school) train and prepare your prefects within the schools… especially these schools on our Safe School programme. We want to be a part of that process,” Phillips said.
Primary-school students within the division are also expected to be engaged.
Phillips informed that the symposium served as the first step towards greater interventions his division intends on implementing to reduce violence in schools.
“We’re also exploring the idea of establishing an Intelligence Club within the schools and through that club, we will deal with issues of conflict, mediation, training students in that regard and several other safety and security issues you [the students] need to know as student leaders,” he said.
The symposium was hosted under the theme ‘Children Need Love and Protection…We the Police Are Involved’, with students from the various secondary schools in the division sharing their opinions on issues that affect them.
These included weapons in schools, parental neglect, crime and violence, and transportation.
Student from Greater Portmore High, Tristan Taylor, emphasised that weapons in schools “undermine the fundamental right to an education”.
“When students and teachers are constantly worried about their safety, it becomes increasingly difficult for them to focus on their studies and fulfil their teaching responsibilities. Students should be able to go to school without the fear of violence, and parents should feel confident that their children are safe in educational institutions,” he argued.
Another Greater Portmore High student, Mikhail Thompson, suggested that counselling services should be readily available to students who are exposed to violence.
“The effects of weapons in schools are profound and demand our immediate attention. We must recognise that education is not just about imparting knowledge, but also about nurturing individuals positively in society,” he said.
The Safe Schools Programme is geared towards addressing criminal and anti-social behaviour in schools.
Under the programme, trained members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) work with at-risk students within identified schools.