Whoever thought that being at school was a safe space may just have to rethink that notion. Yesterday a teacher of the Salvation Army was assaulted by a parent, resulting in the teacher losing teeth. 27-year-old, Valine Rose Martinez went to the school and requested to see the Principal. She entered the compound and saw the teacher, Britney Thompson and attacked her. Since the incident, the parent has been in police custody and was taken to court this morning. Martinez claimed that her son was being physically assaulted by the teacher and nothing was being done. She was arraigned before Magistrate, Khadeen Palmer for a single charge of wounding. Martinez was unrepresented and pleaded guilty immediately. Her guilty plea was accepted by the court and since she is a first-time offender, Magistrate Palmer imposed a non-custodial sentence of a fine of $2,500 plus a $5.00 cost of court. Love News spoke to the President of the Belize National Teacher Union, Elena Smith, who expressed outrage at the incident.
Elena Smith, President, Belize National Teachers Union: “In terms of the details I am not fully aware of the details. I spoke to the principal this morning but the principal has received instructions from her management not to share any information as yet because the management needs to do it’s investigation. Well for us we are quiet outraged about that incident. We have been saying for some time now that the Ministry has removed corporal punishment from schools and so teachers can no longer discipline students the way they used to. I am not saying that that would be the answer to the issues that we are having but we have to understand that our children come to school now and our parents now come to school with this attitude that the teachers can’t do anything. So the moment you raise your voice a little bit too loudly “oh you’re abusing the child.”, you know, if you talk to them too much “you’re harassing them.” If you force them to do their school work because they must “oh you’re bullying them.” So a lot of things that people now look at, simple little things that we might not see as discipline or as abuse parents and students see them as abuse and the students are quick to say to teachers “I will call my mom on you.” , “My dad will come shoot you.” , “I will tell the minister.” that kind of attitude. So the teachers now are left with that matter being taken out but nothing really put in place to address the matter of disciplining students and the matter of how is it that teachers are going to deal with those issues in the classroom. They have been attending some workshops yes but we have not seen an effort to really look at this matter and see how best we can provide as many strategies as possible for our teachers to use in the classroom. And so if we continue then to have our students and our parents feel as if though they have rights but no responsibilities, and our teachers have responsibilities but no rights, this is what we will see and it’s going to get worse.”
According to the Teacher, the mother had previously sent threats to her. The incident reportedly stemmed from a behavioral issue Martinez’s son was having and was sent to the Principal office. Our Court Reporter and cameraman approached her to give her side of the story and that was when she threatened to break our cameras; we were able to capture that threat on camera. The parent had been charged in a separate incident for handling stolen good.