As we mentioned earlier, the most recent murder in Belize City took place near the Queen Street Baptist Primary School and St. Mary’s Primary School. The challenge has been to keep our children safe from the violence that has taken over our streets. Love news spoke with Elena Smith, the President of the Belize National Teachers Union, BNTU, who said that safety is a great concern for schools.
Elena Smith – President of BNTU: “We are very concerned as it relates to crime in general but when these things occur near schools it’s a little bit more concerning to us because you know how many students are in those schools and how many students can be affected. So what it is that our schools could do is as much as possible keep the students inside, the wardens have to be a little bit more vigilant of observing the area and as soon as something happens alert the teachers, alert the principal so the students could be kept safe. We always tell our children when we do our teachings, that when they hear these things they must get low and so I am hoping that our teachers and our principals are instilling that into our students so that when these things occur they know exactly what to do and not panic and take shelter instead of running outside because that might be a little more dangerous.
Love news also spoke with the Principal of St. John’s Vianney Primary School, Felix Sutherland, who said that the school has slightly change the way they operate in light of the crime situation.
Felix Sutherland – Principal of St. John’s Vianney Primary School: “We try to provide a safe environment. Some years ago we had some chain link fences and we used to observe guys running through the compound. Since we erected a concrete fence it has helped. We also do safety drills, we talk to our children about going on the street unauthorized. We know which students should eat at school, we know which ones should go home for lunch and we try to ensure that they leave school on time. As a matter of fact some years ago we had to change our school hours because this area was very hot and so we had adjusted our school hours from the regular 8:30. We begin now at 8:15 and we have an abbreviated lunch of 45 minutes and so the contact time remains the same but our students are able to leave school at 2:30 pm.
Sutherland added that some of the children are victims of the ongoing violence, but they have developed ways to cope.