Jodi-Ann Gilpin, Gleaner Writer
Constable Ricardo McCalpin, a school resource officer under the Safe Schools Programme, says there continues to be an increase in the number of gangs in educational institutions across Jamaica.
The constable, who was speaking at a public lecture at the University of the West Indies on gangs, said communities are often the training ground for errant young men.
"A lot of gangs are in these schools. Every school that we have been working with since the start of the year has a gang, mainly the non-traditional high schools. Many of them stem from the larger gangs that are in the communities," McCalpin said.
He added: "These are not some simple bullying gangs. These are the same ones that are going to take up the mantle from the bigger ones in the communities, and they are coming with more innovative ways of eluding the police," he said.
CAUSE FOR CONCERN
Speaking at the same forum, Professor Julie Meeks Gardner of the Caribbean Development Centre said there is cause for concern at the number of gangs in schools.
"I don't want to disclose too much right now because we are still in the process of our research, but we have been doing a study looking at gangs in schools and we were amazed at the number of named gangs they were in both primary and high schools in Jamaica," Meeks Gardner said.
Meanwhile, McCalpin argued that some teachers are at the mercy of the bad boys.
"Some of them are bad men in uniform. These are some of the youths who are firing the guns in their communities, and so when teachers talk to them they take it lightly and teachers can do little or nothing," the policeman said.
The lawman has called on all law-abiding Jamaicans to do their part in helping to eradicate gang culture from the society, particularly in schools.
"We are trying our best. However, it needs a united approach. We need the community, we need teachers and other stakeholders to curb some of these crimes," he charged.