Consequences and solutions

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Marj Moore

In the wake of the interschool fighting and messages on social media inciting violence, there is a real need for calm, cool heads and clear thinking.

The government went some way towards achieving calm by simply immediately closing down the schools involved last week for the safety of all concerned.

However that was also the time for some real thinking to be done about long term and lasting solutions for the few who have once again ignited these fights and rivalries.

And that is what we should remember, the trouble makers are not the majority.

This was not schools fighting each other en masse. 

Deduct those students who simply got swept up as they perhaps foolishly went to try to pull their friends away or protect them and the real protagonists were probably even fewer.

And even if you add in the ‘mob rule’ behavior of onlookers who got carried away with the ‘excitement’ of it all, the original numbers are still relatively small.    

What was clear though, was that once again, it was Avele College students who were involved. 

Sadly over the past few years, they have almost always been the one common factor in interschool fights.

Why?

We need to know the answer to that question, and others.

Perhaps it was inevitable that the school closure was followed by threats and knee jerk reactions from the Prime Minister and others wanting to attribute the blame and restore order in a sometimes brutal scatter-gun approach.

It was understandable perhaps, when we had such a high-powered group of visitors attending a financial meeting for the week.  

Amongst all the rhetoric, was talk of restoring corporal punishment in schools. Singled out in the blame game, fingers were pointed at principals, teachers, parents, social media, the urban drift, the breakdown of traditional ways, the breakdown of society in general … the list went on.

What has never been made clear by this and former investigations, is the answer to the ‘why’ question?

Why did the fights start?

A letter this week from one of our readers who did not wish to be named, recounted a previous incident about six years ago in the town area and what had ensued.

Those involved at that time, were Don Bosco, St Joseph’s and yes, Avele College students.

Despite videos and photos and statement taken to the police which showed the perpetrators who had smashed shop windows, there were no meaningful or practical consequences which addressed the damage they had caused. 

No monetary compensation for the damage, no offers of work or labour and no apology to those affected.  

Instead, the students made a showy, public and obviously meaningless apology to the Head of State and the Prime Minister.

Again, why?

And in spite of the written, visual and oral evidence, all charges were dropped. 

So what was learned? 

Nothing.

Meanwhile the blame game does not solve problems and inspirational speeches and well meaning advice by former pupils who are much older, do not always touch the hearts and minds of the young.

Few of us are advocates for corporal punishment even if there is a sentence in the Bible that can be interpreted as a reason for beating someone else.

Meanwhile all we can hope is that decisions taken by those in positions of authority take into account the majority of the many students who have been let down by the few.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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