Letter of the Day | Guns have no place in schools
THE EDITOR, Sir:
While I would like to think that the intentions of the recently elected president of the JTA were good, I do believe that his statements in a recent Gleaner article about teachers carrying their firearm to work was not a well-thought-out one. I am aware that many school environments have become hostile, but why should teachers meet hostility with the threat of firearm use. Yes, teachers should have a right to defend themselves if the need arises, but the use of a deadly weapon should not be an option.
A school should be a safe haven for students, one that promotes not only academic learning, but strong values and morals. Many of our children are already damaged because of poor primary socialisation, and yes, many of them are already exposed to deadly weapons in the homes and/or communities. Some even have access to guns, but we need to rethink the way we handle antisocial behaviours in schools.
An adult, who is also a figure of authority in the school, should not have to resort to the use of a firearm. This would be wrong on so many levels, not to mention the fact that it would be quite cumbersome to conceal such a weapon while carrying out day-to-day interactions and activities in the classroom. This is not the kind of fear that we want to instill in students. What we should be promoting, instead, is respect for each other.
I must bring to the president's attention the new safety and security project soon to be implemented in schools by the Ministry of Education, in partnership with USAID and the National Education Trust. This initiative is a more plausible approach. The measures that are to be put in place focus more on the holistic development of students, along with non-threatening security measures such as the provision and reinforcement of perimeter fencing, use of surveillance equipment along with more security personnel assigned to schools, and the inclusion of parents and community in the promotion of democratic and civil-principles programmes among our young people.
I am aware that it is legal for licensed firearm holders to bring their firearm to work under certain conditions, but the school environment is not like every other working environment, as we all know.
Mr President, let us focus instead on promoting the principles of democratic and civil citizenship among our young people by getting them involved in the peaceful resolution of conflicts instead. What has happened to Perky the Parrot? Why have we abandoned him and other similar initiatives? Please let us talk more about these things and not the gun.