Minister of Youth, Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo (far right, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, NULL, NULL, 0); UNDP Resident Rep, Stein Hansen (third from right, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, NULL, NULL, 0); UNDP Spokesperson for Peace, AJA (left), and students admiring the Peace Pole after it was unveiled.

There is a perception that the Barbadian society "is becoming increasingly more aggressive".

Word of this has come from Minister of Youth, Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo, who bemoaned that both adults and young people were exhibiting violent behaviour. She made the comments today at the Fourth Anniversary Peace Ambassadors Programme at Harrison College.

Dr. Byer Suckoo told her audience: "We’ve seen that gang violence has crept into our schools and teachers would probably lament that they spend more time now trying to discipline and settle classroom disputes than teaching lessons. We’ve seen where some teachers are afraid to go into the classrooms because of the violence. There are some teachers who themselves have been assaulted.

"This has become a real challenge, not only in the schools, but for policy makers across the region to put mechanisms in place to curb the levels of violence in schools. Whether we want to cast blame on the music, the family, the community, changing mores and values … we have a responsibility to ensure our youth are inculcated with civic values and conflict resolutions."

She urged the teachers to give the children the skills to resolve conflict, while noting that her Ministry was undertaking a similar task for parents in its Parent Support and Education Programme.

The Minister pointed out that a survey conducted in 2006 on Violence in Schools and the Community indicated that 75 per cent of students had seen a scissors in school, 65.5 per cent had seen a knife, 27.5 per cent had seen an ice pick, 15 per cent had seen a cutlass and 6.7 per cent had seen a gun in school. She added that 27.5 per cent of males had stated they carried a weapon to school, while 15.1 per cent of the female students reported they carried a weapon.

According to her, this emerging violent culture would place a threat on the social and moral fabric of society. "We have students who are afraid to go to school because if they accosted or inadvertently offended a student, they are never quite sure of the outcome. So, we have a major problem that we must address and it is for all of us to address it," Dr. Byer Suckoo maintained.

A peace pole was unveiled on the school’s grounds during the ceremony and the Minister commended the Peace Ambassadors, stating that their efforts did not go unnoticed, since they were contributing to making Barbados a better place.

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