Caribbean News Round-up


Parents angry over fondling incident at school

fondling[Jamaica Observer] – THE principal of a St Catherine-based basic school has come in for harsh criticisms over her handling of a series of fondling incidents involving her young students.

Parents are accusing the principal, a woman, of not doing enough to stop the practice which they said is occurring too frequently at the school.

The latest incident took place last week where two four-year-old boys stripped and attempted to fondle a female peer. The Jamaica Observer understands that the three were playing with other students when they suddenly went “missing”.

The three were later found in the bathroom, but not before the girl’s clothes were pulled off as the boys attempted to fondle her.

On Tuesday, the girl’s parents told the Observer that they only became aware of the disturbing incident after their daughter informed them days later. But the principal has insisted that she, too, was not aware of the incident.

“I hear some parents saying I took too long to report the matter, but it was a case where I was not aware of the matter,” the principal asserted. “Parents are looking to make the situation bigger than it really is; it’s not a big deal; it’s not like the child was raped,” she said. But her comments have only served to further anger the parents.

“The principal has been unprofessional in how she dealt with the matter deal,” said the girl’s mother, who had threatened to report the incident to the Ministry of Education.


St Vincent opposition refuses to concede defeat

ballot-boxKINGSTOWN, St Vincent (CMC) — The main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) Wednesday night refused to concede defeat in the general election accusing the ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP) of seeking to hold on to power “against the wishes of the people”.

“We of the New Democratic Party are confident that we have won the general elections based on figures received by our various polling agents,” the NDP said in a brief statement.

According to the preliminary figures released by the Electoral Office here, the ULP won the poll by an 8-7 margin, the same results it had obtained in the 2010 general election.

But the NDP said that “our figures show that we won the Central Leeward seat by 6 votes, which means that we won the general elections by 8 seats to 7”.

It said that the ULP is “claiming victory” and that “any such action is a brazen attempt by a dying regime to hold on to power against the wishes of the people”.

“We in St Vincent and the Grenadines will not let this injustice stand. We are calling immediately for a full investigation into the late night activities in Central Leeward and upon behalf of the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines we reserve all our rights in the matter,” the party statement added.

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves who won a historic fourth consecutive term in office told the Caribbean Media Corporation that he was “humbled by the significant and historic victory.

“A fourth term with an increase in the popular votes and I am asking the nation to celebrate this victory in peace and maturity,” Gonsalves added.


Boy, 6, attempts suicide in Trinidad

suicide_speak_reach[Trinidad Newsday] – A SIX-YEAR-OLD second year student of the Carapichaima Anglican Primary School, apparently jilted by a six-year old girl from his class attempted suicide on Tuesday during the lunch break by tying a sweater around his neck which he attached to burglar proofing in the school’s courtyard before jumping.

Thankfully, the child was found gasping for breath by another six-year-old who immediately alerted the school’s principal and a teacher who rushed to the hanging schoolboy and took him down.

Social workers were summoned to the school and the boy was spoken to at length. Newsday understands he confessed that he had an interest in a particular six year- old girl, but she struck him and told him she did not like him.

It was then, in a fit of rage, the boy attempted the take his own life by hanging, while classmates were having their lunch.

Newsday understands that after the boy was rescued, he told the school’s principal that he missed his daddy and when he reached home, he would take a knife and kill himself. Sources revealed that a male relative of the boy recently committed suicide and the child was left traumatised. The boy, Newsday was told, would often tell his classmates he wants to be with his relative who committed suicide.

The boy was then taken to the Couva Health Centre where he was treated and allowed to be united with shocked relatives.

Newsday understands that the bizarre incident resulted in classmates of the boy becoming very troubled and the girl who struck him, appearing to be very traumatised by the incident. She began crying after juvenile fingers were pointed at her as the reason the boy tried to end his own life.

The girl was not at school yesterday but she confirmed to teachers that she had struck the boy and told him that she did not like him. Newsday understands that counsellors have been assigned to the school by the Ministry of Education. The boy was also not at school yesterday.

However, there will be a Christmas treat at the school today and the boy is expected to attend.


Secretary of the Psychiatrist Association of Trinidad and Tobago Dr Varma Deyalsingh yesterday called on the parents of the boy to seek assistance for him from a child psychologist, immediately.

“That child may have seen a same scenario played out with adults so he may be looking at how adults cope with this situation or how they voiced their intended actions to a similar situation.

If he hears an adult saying that they will kill themself, if their consort leaves them, he (the boy) may think it’s the appropriate action to take. Children follow adults, they mimic our behaviour so he may have seen similar behaviour and utilise this as the norm.

“He may have been exposed to the murder/suicide that was in the press recently and sometimes there is a copycat behaviour that he may want to follow”, said Dr Deyalsingh. He added “so any publication of any suicide, it goes into the mind of the individual, they may try to do likewise, so that is copycat behaviour that is learned, and there may be a reason while a child can act out like this,” Dr Deyalsingh said.

“We need to investigate if there are any suicides in this child’s family for there is an increased risk of suicide in family members who have witnessed a relative committing suicide. So what we need to look at is recognising children who have emotional problems very early,” he added.

The doctor recommended that teachers have an important role to play in identifying children with emotional problems and leaving this up to parents.

He said that globally, teenage suicides have been increasing from the age of 15 -24. Children have to learn coping mechanisms when faced with disappointment or trauma, he said.

Sporting activities is very important in teaching children how to lose, how to get support from their team members and sporting activities play an important role in teaching children that there is nothing wrong in losing and another day there is another game.

Contacted for comment, Devanand Sinanan, President of the Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA) said, “first of all I am very distressed to hear that a six-year-old child has attempted suicide.

It is an indication of something being deeply wrong and troubling in that child’s life and of course under the circumstances the student support services of the Ministry of Education have to mobilise the necessary personnel to engage in counselling of both the affected child as well as the other students of the school. And the teachers as well.

The teachers would be advised to seek the assistance of the Employers’ Assistance Programme, if necessary.” A Ministry of Education official said yesterday “we have received a report of the incident and members of our Student Support Services are on board providing counselling to the student and the family”.

Newsday also understands that the Ministry of Health is working alongside the Ministry of Education to conduct a psychiatric assessment of the child and provide further counselling in the days ahead.




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