Ready to take on school sex - Thwaites vows to tackle inappropriate behaviour at all-girls' institutions

Published: Tuesday | April 10, 2012 Comments 0
Ronald Thwaites
Ronald Thwaites

Nadisha Hunter, Staff Reporter

A Ministry of Education report on investigations into allegations of forced sexual activities at some local girls' schools is expected to be ready this week. Education Minister Ronald Thwaites, told The Gleaner yesterday that the ministry had conducted the investigation into the matter and was awaiting the results.

Thwaites said that, based on the outcome, the ministry would intervene to put an end to any such activity at the schools.

Early last month it was revealed that authorities at a prominent Corporate Area all-girls high school were struggling to deal with several alleged sexual attacks on young girls by older students.

School authorities had summoned parents to an emergency meeting as more and more young girls began reporting horror stories of cases where they were forced to perform sexual acts with older girls at the institution.

The Gleaner understood that some girls in the upper school regularly sought to recruit the young girls from the first and second forms.

Thwaites declared he was ready to take the appropriate action to rid the education system of the behaviour.

"The ministry must do two things; one, it must articulate very clearly the inappropriateness of any kind of sexual pressure in schools and, second, it must get the school community, which includes parents, teachers, all workers and the students themselves, to avoid any instance of this kind of pressure," the minister stressed.

Thwaites said training for both teachers and parents was essential in order to better the system.

"This is where I think continuing professional development of our teachers is very important so that they know the signs, that they don't over exaggerate and that they are adept at counselling young children and adults.

"This is also to emphasise the importance of vigorous parenting programmes so that parents can become active collaborators and fully informed persons who can assist their children in going through the sometimes turbulent years of growing up," he added.

Principals concerned

The problem of sexual attacks had attracted the attention of the Jamaica Association of Principals of Secondary Schools (JAPSS) and Children's Advocate Diahann Gordon Harrison.

JAPSS President Sharon Reid, had admitted this was a problem in some schools and that the matter would be a major item of discussion at a retreat scheduled for next month under the theme 'Facing Challenges of Leadership Together'.

Gordon Harrison had said there needed to be a public-education campaign to sensitise the offenders about the breaches they have committed.

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