Jamaica Observer: MANDEVILLE, Manchester — A wall of silence covered Catholic College of Mandeville in Williamsfield on Tuesday, a day after 20-year-old student Akeilia White was fatally stabbed, allegedly by another student.

When the Jamaica Observer visited the school on Tuesday morning the gate was closed and there was word that the campus was locked down after Monday’s incident. There was no official from the school to speak with the media. Even a planned visit by Education Minister Fayval Williams for 8:00 am Tuesday was cancelled. Late Tuesday, word came that Williams will visit the school this morning.

Reacting to Monday’s incident, Custos of Manchester Garfield Green said adults have failed their children.

“We often hear people say ‘these young people are bad’ and ‘these young people need help’. I want to say that it is us who have gone ahead of them. We have failed them and they are only living what they are learning from us,” he told journalists on Tuesday.

“When I see how some adults behave on the roads, how can we expect better from the younger generation? The older generation has failed those who are coming behind [them],” added Green.

The Observer was told that White and a 17-year-old boy were among students in a classroom about midday on Monday when another teenager used a sharp object to inflict stab wounds on White and the boy. The injured students were taken to hospital where White was pronounced dead and the boy admitted.

The suspect, who is also 17, has since been charged with murder and wounding with intent.

Head of the Manchester police Deputy Superintendent Carey Duncan said the youngster was taken to court and remanded until June 4.

Duncan said detectives are theorising that a missing cell phone and money are possible motives for the incident. He said the police seized the murder weapon, a knife, which the suspect reportedly went for after an initial confrontation with White.

The other student who was injured was said to have tried to intervene in the dispute when he was stabbed.

Green pointed out that Monday’s incident was not only “disturbing”, but a reflection of the need for social revitalisation.

“Our schools seem to [have] become a battleground for students to settle their disputes; it happens on the school compound, it happens on the road involving students,” he said.

“Violence in schools is a serious and complex issue that can really have detrimental effects on students, teachers and the overall community. I think there are various factors that contribute to their behaviour and I want to start with the role of proper parenting. I think home is the first school that every child attends,” added Green.

He said the lack of proper parenting needs to be addressed to stem behavioural issues among children.

“Their parents are the first teachers that they should encounter. The values and attitudes that they are taught at home determines how they behave away from home. I think there is a breakdown in parenting,” said Green.

“We need to focus on engaging our parents. Teaching them proper parenting skills to instil positive values and attitudes in their children. However, schools are there to enhance what students learn at home,” he added.

Green is also pushing for his brainchild, the Manchester beliefs, values and attitudes (BVA) programme, aimed at facilitating attitudinal change and social revitalisation, to be embraced nationally.

“The BVA has a presence in schools here in Manchester. We are pushing for students to learn proper values and attitudes. Values such as respect, love, tolerance, patience,” he said.

“Tomorrow (Wednesday) I have a meeting with the prime minister to discuss it, because we want it to be promulgated into schools. We want a lot of focus to be placed on it. We have the peace ambassador programme, which was launched last year and we are ready to launch it across all schools in Manchester. This is due to the reports that we have received from the schools which had the pilot. They have seen reductions in the number of cases being brought to the guidance counsellors or to the principals. They have seen change in the behaviour of students. They have seen less cases of fights. They are seeing proper behaviour overall amongst the students,” said Green, who noted that a parish-wide launch of the BVA is scheduled for next Tuesday in Manchester.