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Police to go back into schools

Police officers will be returning to the Island’s schools in the future in response to reports of weapons on campus.

Inspector Tracy Burgess of the Public Protection Department told a public meeting last night that the Police Service had received multiple calls from schools about knives.

“We had lots of calls for knives in school. We get lots of calls for that so we are trying to get police back into the schools,” Insp Burgess said.

“I’m sure many of you remember when we had police in the schools? We are bringing it back. That got away from us for a while but we are committed to bringing police officers back into the schools. That is on the top of our priorities.”

Government previously stated that it will be implementing the GREAT Programme in eight schools in September, bringing police into the classroom as a part of the overall anti-gang strategy.

The symposium, organised by the Bermuda Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc was dedicated to discuss how to save young girls from antisocial behaviour.

Insp Burgess said that police have become increasingly aware that young men and women are both involved in gang activity.

“We are realising that a lot more females are involved that we thought,” she said. “It was a surprise to us.

“It’s the females that are carrying the drugs, it’s the females that are holding the guns. It’s the females that are getting people involved in the gangs.”

Counsellor Julita Peniston from Bermuda Youth Counselling Service said it’s not just the girls who are considered “at risk” that are involved in gang activity.

Because the females are less likely to have criminal records, she said they are often used to smuggle drugs. Women are also used to pass messages between gangs as they can go between gang territories without trouble.

And statistically, she said the girls who find themselves involved in gang activity are twice as likely to have unplanned pregnancies, more likely to contract STDs, and more likely to become involved in drug abuse and violence.

Women get involved in gang activity for a number of reasons, Ms Peniston said, including access to money and escaping family issues like drugs and violence.

Acting Chief Officer at Westgate Dennis Brown said that during his time in the Corrections Department, he has seen younger women being incarcerated for more serious offences.

He said that all corners of Bermudian society have turned a blind eye for too long, which has caused the issues now facing the Island.

Andrea Burgess, founder of Mothers Unite, said that while the men involved in gang activity get most of the attention, women play just as large a role.

“We cannot just worry about our males. Our females are just as involved,” she said.

“Some think just like them. They are ready to roll. They are out to prove they can do the same thing as their ace boy. They are fighting, they are selling drugs. They want to belong to something. They want to be loved.”

She urged parents to make time for their children and make sure they feel loved and supported at home so they don’t seek that support elsewhere.

And teen mother China Richardson called on parents to talk with their children and let them know they can succeed even if they make a mistake.

“A lot of young girls get told they are not going to make it,” she said. “How is that helping us? Tell us that we need an education.

“I want my daughter to be someone who makes it through high school and college, not someone who falls through the cracks.”

Inspector Tracy Burgess

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Published May 31, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated May 30, 2013 at 11:37 pm)

Police to go back into schools

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