Saturday, April 20, 2024

‘Gangs in schools’


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THE GANG CULTURE in Barbados has reached the island’s secondary schools. Magistrate in the Juvenile Court, Faith Marshall-Harris, warned yesterday that it was “a fairly new phenomenon with the potential to corrupt Barbados’ school population”.Addressing the annual District “A” Juvenile Open Court at United Nations House yesterday, Marshall-Harris also spoke about an adult lesbian group that was recruiting schoolgirls.Marshall-Harris said while gang involvement in schools  was “at the moment in its infancy . . . if we don’t start to deal with it now, it is going to grow because a lot of children feel it is the in-thing to be part of this new phenomenon.”She also described it as “a fairly new development for the court” and revealed that information about gang activity in schools came from “one girl before the court who told us in great detail of her involvemement.”The magistrate said this “then led us to start asking questions of all the juveniles who came thereafter”.   Marshall-Harris shared information about the operation of these gangs, which she said had been gleaned from young offenders.Through them,  Marshall-Harris said she learnt about the operations of gangs such as the “Crypts” and “Bloods”, believed  to be two of the most feared gangs on the island, as well as about other gangs operating here.“I must say that I missed the signs for a very long time . . . like most of the adults in the society I did not actually accept that we had a gang problem. The point is that we are going to have to face up to it. They are here.”Marshall-Harris expressed concern that some of the gangs reaching into secondary schools brought with them “a great deal of violence”. The magistrate gave her own defintion of gangs as “groups which are formed with the specific purpose and intent of serious criminal activity”. She said they were “deliberately infiltrating the school system and recruiting, because children can be usefully used for a number of purposes.” Marshall-Harris also spoke about the “Celebrities”  –  “an adult lesbian gang who are recruiting in the schools. “I have had reports of first formers or girls afraid to go to the bathroom because they will get attacked by members of the Celebrities,”  Marshall-Harris stated.She also reported being told about the “Gothics”, whom she described as “really terrifying because apparently they drink blood”, and the “Country Boys” whose activities were “based on minor violence”.  Attention should be paid to this gang  because it  was  “producing charges before the court of assault . . . stabbings and so on”. Marshall-Harris said a lot of the young people finding themselves in gangs “wanted to belong, to be accepted” and turned to gangs to provide this.


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