Jamaica Observer: KINGSTON, By Arthur Hall – ADMINISTRATORS, teachers, and parents of lower school students at a Corporate Area co-educational high school are on tenterhooks this morning as a simmering dispute involving upper school boys appears ready to explode.
The Jamaica Observer is not naming the school in Kingston 20 based on requests from people who are working with the police to prevent the dispute from escalating.
“Some boys in 10 and 11th grades have formed gangs which are mainly linked to the neighbouring communities where they live, and they are coming to school armed with knives, ice picks, choppers and — based on one report — guns,” an Observer source said.
“We have been made aware of the dispute and started searching the upper school students, but then we found out that they were giving their family members and neighbours in the lower school the weapons to carry in, so we are now searching everyone — including the girls who are putting the weapons in some strange places on their bodies to carry them in,” added the source.
According to the reports reaching the Observer, in a recent incident two groups of boys faced off outside the school gate and one pulled a gun which he pointed at his rival, who fled while patrons at a nearby plaza looked on.
“We have heard that story but we are not sure that the boy who pulled the gun is a student at this school because what we have found is that their friends who do not attend the school have been dressing in uniforms and coming on the compound,” the source said.
“Right now, what the principal has done is to tell the security guards that any student coming on the compound must show an ID, as we are aware that these schoolboy gangsters are being helped by their friends,” added the source.
Last Wednesday the school’s administrators requested help from the police to conduct a search of the compound and some students, but there is no word yet on what was found.
“The principal is well aware of the dispute and every day he spends hours looking on the camera and patrolling the corridors in an effort to prevent this from escalating. He grew up in an inner-city community so he knows what is happening, and he has been going to the communities where the boys are from in an effort to stop it at the source,” another source told the Observer.
“All of us here are afraid as these boys in the gangs don’t take any talk from teacher or anybody, and we are worried about what next will happen. We have heard reports that they are using their weapons to slap each other to ‘print the maker’s name on the blade in their faces’ but luckily it has not passed that yet,” the source revealed.
The source pointed out that boys in grades seven to nine who were well-behaved and disciplined are now involved in the schoolyard gangs.
“This is just an explosion waiting to happen and it needs the intervention of the Ministry of Education and the police. Even when you call PTA [parent-teacher association] meetings, the parents of these problem boys don’t attend and the few that do, don’t accept that their little ‘angels’ are gang members,” added the source as he pointed out that since the start of this year at least two clashes involving students on school compounds have ended in tragedy.
Violent confrontations between students have escalated since the resumption of face-to-face classes this year following two years of online instruction due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
In March, 16-year-old Khamal Hall was fatally stabbed by a fellow student of William Knibb High School in Trelawny, and late last month 16-year-old Michion Campbell was fatally stabbed at Kingston Technical High School in downtown Kingston, allegedly by a 17-year-old schoolmate who is now facing a murder charge.