School violence ‘isolated cases’, Gibraltar authorities

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AN article in Panorama claiming that has been an increase in violence at Bayside Comprehensive School in Gibraltar has been condemned by the Gibraltar Government as “misleading and factually incorrect”.

No pupils have been arrested for “violence or drug related incidents” and “it is not true that pupils have been expelled or that the school has recorded any cases of verbal or physical assaults against teachers,” the Government said in a statement.

Yet  according to Education Minister Clive Beltran there have actually been two arrests within Bayside Comprehensive School in the past two years.

One 14-year-old Bayside student was arrested for “violent behaviour towards a teacher” and a 13-year-old boy was detained by police in the school “after he was found in possession of a small amount of a known drug”.

No arrests were made in Westside Comprehensive, although two girls were asked to accompany police to assist with inquiries over an incident outside school.

Data provided to the Opposition during the last question session in Gibraltar Parliament showed that the cases were isolated and involved children from troubled backgrounds.

The Government considered Panorama’s article as “alarmist and sensationalist” and filled with “accusations and insinuations”.

They condemned the article as causing “distress to parents and teachers alike” and said it “aimed at generating a loss of confidence in the education system generally and young people in particular.”

The Panorama story gleaned some of its information from The Royal Gibraltar Police (RGP), but RGP said that Panorama misrepresented what the police spokesman told them.

There is indeed police presence outside the school, but the article claimed it was to prevent outbreaks of violence.

Officials stated that the RGP was there “in the form of Community Constables who assist teachers with the daily arrival and departure of more than 1,000 pupils, many of whom do so using their own vehicles”.

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