The government says it intends to make young troublemakers wards of the state as it seeks to address the issue of violence among young people in Antigua and Barbuda
The latest decision, which was announced in Cabinet on Thursday comes on the heels of an incident at the Clare Hall Secondary School this week, which forced the suspension of classes for the week.
On Tuesday 31st January 2023, two armed assailants breached security at the Clare Hall Secondary School and subsequently traumatized students, teachers, and ancillary staff with a machete and a golf club.
Information Minister Melford Nicholas said if it gets to the point where these troublemakers lack adequate parenting, then the legislation will have to be put in place to “bring them under the control as wards of the state to be able to curb this incipit social development”
“We stand with the ministry of education, teachers, and faculty at the school to lend support in these circumstances,” Nicholas said,
Nicholas explained that conversations and public discissions must be held on the matter before any legislation can be put in place.
“It is not going to be a knee-jerk response…but we need to look out how we can open up conversations…” he added.
Inducting these young men and women into the cadet core program is also another suggestion and the recommencement of the boy’s training school was another idea.
All this comes as plans are underway to install CCTV at all school plants on the island and proper lighting as well.
Funding he said has already been approved for the installation of the CCTV cameras.
“The work has already begun. Part of the challenge is to get proper lighting in the vicinity of the schools and the ministry of education has availed itself of the resources from the Antigua Public Utilities Authority so the school plants are now better equipped with lighting even on the evenings”, Nicholas said
In November last year, dangerous gangs were popping up once again, a 15-year-old student of all boy’s school, Antigua Grammar School, was rushed to hospital following what appears to have been a premeditated attack by three unknown young men wearing hoodies and armed with a machete.
The child sustained chops to the back of his head and right elbow.
It is said that gangs called – 2 Drilly, its affiliate 2 Drilly Girls, and alleged rival 700 Bones —are behind the attacks.
The gangs- which consist of children between the ages of 13 to 16 years were reportedly formed in schools and the students have been observed posing with weapons in online posts and announcing their next targets-other school children.
And after a lull, it seems like gang violence among young children is resurfacing once again.