Jodi-Ann Gilpin, Gleaner Writer
National Coordinator of the Safe Schools Programme Sergeant Coleridge Minto is making a strong appeal to schools to inspect vendors who operate on their premises, revealing that they have, to some extent, contributed to violent incidents.
The sergeant, who was speaking against the background of the alarming increase in school violence last academic year, said the Safe Schools Branch would be putting measures in place to address the issue.
"Ongoing investigations and information reaching us thus far is that they (vendors) are the ones, in some cases, hiding and providing weapons for students," he told The Gleaner.
"Some of them are selling things under cover for the students and, overall, what we found with our vendors have been of concern for us."
He pointed out, however, that other factors contributed to school violence.
"Blame is not squarely with vendors. It's about trying to see how we can regulate them," he declared.
Clayton Hall, principal of the Spanish Town High School and former president of the Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA), has attested to the fact that some vendors have posed a threat to the safety of students.
"The issue is definitely a problem. It is one of those situations where vendors have been known to hoard weapons on behalf of students because students know they will be searched, and as soon as a fracas develops, weapons are brought into play," he told The Gleaner.
"We have, however, sought to mitigate the problem with the assistance of the constabulary and the Safe Schools Programme to see how best we can facilitate our vendors, but if ever we get back to a stage where they (vendors) are condoning violent practices, we will be using all available resources to stop it," Hall said.