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

Published:Tuesday | April 10, 2012
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.

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

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

"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

"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.


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

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'.

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